Hypnotherapy and weight loss

In recent times, more and more people are turning to alternative methods to lose weight. I have found more people have come to me to use hypnotherapy to help them lose weight, often after having tried most other conventional means.


The reasons people can put on weight or struggle to lose weight can vary from person to person and often people may have tried many different diets and not had success. What they do not realise is that crash diets in themselves can be unhelpful, and there may be deeper emotional issues driving the weight issue, such as using food as a coping device or to make them feel better. 

There can also be deeper, more emotional driven triggers that cause client weight gain. The levels of stress in a person's life can be a big factor.

If you are used to eating a certain amount or in a certain way, then drastically altering that will likely cause an imbalance in your metabolism, which in some people can result in weight gain. This is in addition to the physical sensations of cutting things down too quickly, altering their diet too drastically and acting in a way that is quite unnatural to them.

I always try and emphasise to anyone wishing to lose weight that they need to be patient and realistic and that change begins by starting small. This is confirmed by the NICE guidelines (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) that a weight loss of 5% total body weight, over a six month period, can have major health benefits in terms of reducing the likelihood of developing diabetes and reducing high blood pressure. 

Hypnotherapy for weight loss

In hypnosis, it may be apparent from an initial assessment and through building a good therapeutic relationship, that the person has over time developed certain habits that lead to them overeating. In cases like this, a hypnotherapist who has been trained in Hypno gastric band may choose to use this approach to help with the situation.

Hypno gastric band originated in 2010 and has been shown to be an effective adjunct with other interventions to lose weight. The process basically entails inducing trance and suggesting to the mind and body that the stomach is smaller than it actually is, to promote a feeling of being full. 

Stress and weight gain

There can also be deeper, more emotional driven triggers that cause client weight gain. The levels of stress in a person's life can be a big factor. There have been considerable studies that show that individuals suffering from chronic stress are often associated with the consumption of energy-rich foods such as carbohydrates - this stimulates the sympathetic nervous system which results in the accumulation of fat. 

There is also evidence to show that ongoing mental stress is linked to a build-up of fat around the organs in the abdominal area. This is why it is important from the hypnotherapist's perspective to glean as much information about the person's behaviours and emotions as well as what they eat. Hypnotherapy in itself through the induction of trance is a relaxing intervention.

The practice should look to reduce the stress-inducing hormones in the body, and through metaphor or direct suggestion, look to change the person's perspective on what is the root cause of their stress and how they deal with it. 

I often find that people who come along looking to lose weight often focus solely on their diet and the foods they eat but ignore other mitigating factors such as stress or low mood, or certain behaviours. By getting away from being fixated on the actual food and tweaking their thinking, can produce great results. 

Stress and sleep

The link between lack of sleep and stress can also be a common factor in weight gain. Insomnia or broken light sleep can be an indicator of stress or high anxiety levels. There has been research into how individuals with poor sleep patterns often have poor diets, this is because lack of sleep is linked to a deficiency in the hormones leptin and ghrelin which are associated with hunger.

In this case, part of the treatment package offered if this applies to you, could be to promote a healthy sleep pattern and the use of a self-hypnosis recording to aid this. Information on what to avoid before going to bed such as tea, coffee and no electronic devices an hour prior to bed promotes healthy behaviours for clients to maintain. This may lead to better sleep and reduced appetite.

I have found that often shift workers with a disturbed sleep pattern can struggle with their weight as they seek out fatty foods for energy and due to working long hours do not have time to prepare more healthy meals. It can often be the case that a particular behaviour is driven by a mitigating factor and it is the issue of identifying that with the client then working through this, as opposed to just focussing on the presenting problem.

This is why a good hypnotherapist should always carry out a thorough assessment: if you contact someone and they just want to go straight into working with your problem, then keep looking. 

Emotional eating

There are also many people out there who are emotional eaters: they seek solace in food when sad, angry or upset. In these cases it can sometimes be due to how they were treated as children and being met with criticism and a lack of understanding when distressed, not learning how to adequately self soothe. These types of people perhaps did not receive attention from their primary caregiver and when distressed, the child can then internalise their feelings and search for reassurance externally in things such as food. 

It may also be that sometimes people see food as a reward so if they feel they have done something that merits being rewarded such as a productive day at work, they may give themselves a treat - but a reward on a regular basis is not a reward anymore and the joy from it soon ceases. This situation might require the hypnotherapist to use ego strengthening techniques aimed at promoting self-confidence, self-control, and resilience and to look for an alternative reward if they feel something merits it. 

I often highlight to clients that they demonstrate self-control all the time and in a variety of ways, but it is so ingrained they just do not realise it. 

The hypnotherapist may also try and challenge the thinking of a client who behaves this way by questioning if eating does indeed help the client to calm down, and to include in the session a time in their client's life when they used an alternative means to cope or managed to deal with a stressful event without food. This could be emphasised through a post-hypnotic suggestion such as, "There are many times when I have struggled with challenging situations in life and I do not need food to bolster me."

The other factor that often plays a part in people struggling to lose weight, is that they perceive they lack self-control. I often highlight to clients that they demonstrate self-control all the time and in a variety of ways, but it is so ingrained they just do not realise it. For example, you can still be attracted to other people if married or in a relationship but generally, you do not act on it, or you could be so angry you have the thought to thump someone, but again generally for most people, it does not get past the thought stage. If you emphasise the many ways clients display self-control, over time the perception of themselves changes. 

In summary, there can be many different mitigating factors why an individual may struggle with their weight and this is why it is important to really get to know your therapist, and once establishing what you think is the barrier, tackling that.

It is also important to emphasise that hypnosis is most effective as an adjunct alongside promoting healthy living such as regular exercise, healthy eating and being emotionally happy and healthy. The last point I sometimes try to summarise is by saying whatever makes you most happy doing, do more of it.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Troon KA10 & Glasgow G3
Written by Iain Lawrence, (BA) Dip Hyp
Troon KA10 & Glasgow G3

My name is Iain Lawrence I am a Hypnotherapist Based in South Lanarkshire and South Ayrshire. I am a caring empathetic practitioner and I have experience of a wide range of issues from Phobias to Anxiety. I use Hypnotherapy, Emotional Freedom Therapy and NLP Neuro Linguistic Programming in my practice. I believe change happens starting small.

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