Weight loss - the yo-yo diet

What is yo-yo dieting? I’m sure you’ve all heard the term, it goes something like this:

  • Join a slimming club.
  • Lose weight.
  • Gain target weight.
  • Stop going to the slimming club.
  • Gain weight.
  • Try a new diet.
  • Lose weight.
  • Stop the diet.
  • Gain weight.
  • Think about joining a different slimming club.

Do you recognise this cycle? So many people experience this, and it frustrates them and disappoints them each time they gain weight again. Also, sadly, the tendency is for the weight to come back with each round of yo-yo dieting. So overall, with all the hard work and effort made, you can end up heavier than when you started. This can be very demoralising and can also lead to other issues linked with self-worth. Feelings of a lack of self-confidence, depression, and social isolation (due to the constant worrying about your weight) can occur.

The problem is that for a lot of people, there is an emotional link to the need for food. To a certain extent that’s not a surprise as, fundamentally as a baby, food soothes us, filling that ever-expanding tummy. It’s all we know at that stage in our lives.

But sometimes, as we grow up, food can be seen as a treat, a reward. Or, we’re told that food waste is bad. How many of us have heard "if you were a good girl you’d eat that all up", or "if you are a good boy when we go out you can have some chocolate"?

Food is treated as a reward, a bribe, or as something comforting. We can feel like we’re having to fill the hole, a feeling of emptiness; not hunger, but emptiness. We can tell ourselves that food can fill this hole, often because of our experiences as a child; that comfort eating, trying to fill up on those good feelings we crave.

But emotional hunger can’t be satisfied with food. At that moment it can feel good, but longer-term, the emotional needs are still there, and the extra calories consumed can lead to more negativity.

Let me just clarify - I’m not blaming our parents here. We must remember that at any time, parents were doing the best they could with what they knew. But historically, food was often used as a reward, and if their mum did it, so will they - that learned behaviour being passed on through the generations.

This is why the yo-yo dieting happens.

It’s the unconscious mind that is feeding the need; the desire for that food. That need to be the 'good girl', the need to be accepted, that need to be loved. The unconscious is a powerful tool, and its main aim is to protect us from danger, but sometimes the unconscious perceives a situation to be dangerous and gets it wrong. That feeling of needing something can be seen by the unconscious as a threat, so we need protection, and the way to protect is to eat.

To fill that hole, that emptiness.

How can hypnotherapy help with yo-yo dieting? 

Hypnotherapy works with the unconscious to update it and upgrade it with new information. Hypnotherapy helps the unconscious to learn a new way of thinking about food and builds an understanding of those feelings of emptiness. Then, working on those feelings can help to undo the link that has been created over time. This means that food becomes just a normal part of the day.

Don’t get me wrong - there is no quick fix to the yo-yo weight loss cycle. But hypnotherapy can be a powerful tool to help you to understand where those feelings come from and how to manage them; to help you to change the relationship with food and to make it just a part of your day. This means that you no longer need to feel that you are 'on a diet' - more that you have changed the way that you eat. You are now choosing to be more healthy in your food choices. That way you can aim for a more sustainable weight-loss that will be more permanent.

Hypnotherapy can help you to cut the string on that yo-yo!

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Written by Sue Jeffery BA Hons, DipCHyp, NLP MPrac

Sue Jeffery is a Cognitive Hypnotherapist. She works with people to help them to be the best that they can be. Conquering their fears and anxieties means that they can move forward and live life well. She has worked extensively with people who struggle to lose weight. Sue recently moved to Frome and loving living there!… Read more

Written by Sue Jeffery BA Hons, DipCHyp, NLP MPrac

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