When you’re tired or feeling stressed or worried do you reach for sweet, sugary snacks, biscuits, chocolates and the like? Are you eating more processed carbohydrate than you know is good for you? Do you “reward” yourself with something sweet or bready? When we do this, we’re confusing our emotional needs for soothing and comfort with our physiological need for sustenance and energy and the result is often unwanted weight gain.
Take Sophie, an attractive and intelligent young woman who came to see me because she was putting on weight, in her words the “extra kilos just keep sneaking up on me”. Over the past couple of years she’d gone from being slim and fit, and eating healthy balanced meals to having gained 10kgs. She was skipping meals, eating lots of take away food and snacking on biscuits and chocolate. She felt tired and frumpy, had virtually stopped exercising and hated the way she looked.
When we talked about what was going on in Sophie’s life she told me that the weight gain coincided with a promotion at work. She liked her job and initially enjoyed the challenge of her new role but admitted that the extra responsibility was “weighing” on her. She had started working very long hours thinking this was expected. She snacked on biscuits and chocolates for an instant energy hit when she was feeling tired and stressed, and seemed to lack the will power to stop. She desperately wanted to get back her old self, the Sophie who genuinely liked healthy food and enjoyed exercising.
Hypnotherapy is not like a sugar hit
“What I need, said Sophie, is for hypnotherapy to stop me wanting that instant sugar hit”.
We will often relate to food the way we relate to other aspects of life and while hypnosis can seem miraculous, the ‘instant hit’ mentality seemed to be behind Sophie’s weight gain; we needed to change that.
Hypnosis isn’t a miracle cure, it’s not a case of telling someone to be a certain way and that’s it, now they’re fixed … forever. If I had hypnotically told Sophie to “stop eating biscuits and chocolates” would that have worked? She might have stopped temporarily but would that reduce her stress levels or help her feel more confident in the job?
Probably not, we needed a broader approach. Sophie understood this and was prepared to renegotiate her relationship to food; to stop expecting a sugar hit to make her feel more relaxed and confident. And in any case, research has shown that comfort eating doesn’t work, subjects who ate “comfort food” when stressed did not report feeling any better than people who ate a healthy alternative.
How does hypnosis work for weight loss?
Hypnosis works because it operates on the level of feelings, patterns and unconscious motivations. Used well, hypnosis will help you naturally feel like making the right choices. This doesn’t mean that someone who’s had hypnotherapy for weight loss will never have to use their willpower, but it does mean they’ll feel better able to use it.
Some hypnotic approaches for weight loss
When helping people to lose weight with hypnotherapy, I use a number of approaches, including:
Over the weeks, Sophie started to look and feel better, to exercise sensibly and to eat well. She also cut back on her hours at work and began to spend more time exercising and relaxing. She also could enjoy the stimulation and interest of her job instead of focusing on the pressure to perform.