Does hypnotherapy work for weight loss?

One of the most common requests I hear from clients is to help them to lose weight. Hypnosis has famously been used throughout the last century to help those who have previously struggled with losing weight via more traditional methods. I am proud to be able to celebrate many of my clients’ weight loss success stories, some of which you can read here.

The effectiveness of different methods of weight loss can be a contentious topic, however, and skeptics often question whether hypnotherapy really works as a viable weight loss method. Although few large-scale clinical trials have been carried out to measure the efficacy of this form of therapy on assisting weight loss, there are a few great examples of randomised, controlled trials where hypnotherapy has proved itself to be a huge success in this pursuit!

Whilst the weight loss market is full of of diet plans and regimes, many promising quick and miraculous weight loss results, the reality is that many of these diets can be difficult and frustrating to stick to, and can have negative impacts and side effects to the physical and mental health of those who pursue them. It is easy to be drawn in by the big promises these diet plans make, however statistics show that 95% percent of all diets fail, and the majority of dieters regain all weight lost within 1-5 years.

Source: Source: Statistics on Weight Discrimination: A Waste of Talent, The Council on Size and Weight Discrimination, Retrieved July 18, 2011, from (http://www.cswd.org/index.html)

The fact is, our eating and exercise habits are far from simple, and cannot be easily changed simply by imposing strict rules upon ourselves. For many, unhealthy eating habits, negative body image, and weight gain are closely tied to emotional and psychological factors. Many of the behaviours that lead us to experience weight and body confidence issues can be traced back to events in our earliest experiences and the messages that were instilled in us during our most formative developmental stages. A hypnotherapist has some unique skills with which to assist with these types of problems and thereby help us to change our habits. By placing a subject in a relaxed state and working with the subconscious mind, a hypnotherapist can work to reshape the way we feel and behave and can give us the ability to effect huge positive changes to our lifestyle, food habits and health.

What do the clinical trials say?

A randomised, controlled study carried out in 1998 on obese patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnoea showed that patients receiving hypnotherapy showed significantly more weight loss than those simply receiving dietary advice. The trial looked at three different groups of patients and compared their weight loss over a period of 18 months. Two of these groups received hypnotherapy as part of their weight loss efforts- but one group’s hypnotherapy had a focus

towards stress reduction, whilst the other group received hypnotherapy for reduced calorie intake. The third group were given dietary advice to assist with their weight loss, but no hypnotherapy. The group receiving hypnotherapy for stress reduction were able to lose weight far more successfully in the long-term than the other two groups, showing what an important part emotional factors play in achieving consistent and sustained weight loss.

Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9539198/

A trial in 2014 measuring the effect of two different forms of hypnotherapy on weight loss for obese women showed that both hypnotherapy methods resulted in improved BMI, body weight and eating behaviour in the women tested. The trial also showed that hypnotherapy resulted in improvements in the women’s body concept (ie. the way the women felt about their bodies).

Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24837060/

A trial in 1996 measured the effect of hypnotherapy used in addition to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help patients to lose weight. Participants in the study who were given hypnotherapy treatment alongside their CBT treatment showed more than double the weight loss than those who received CBT alone.

What does all this mean?

The studies overwhelmingly indicate that hypnotherapy is a brilliant tool with which to help people lose weight. It is important to remember, however, that hypnotherapy is generally thought to be effective, not as a stand-alone solution for those seeking to shed some pounds; but as an extremely useful addition to a more holistic programme of weight loss. This should include elements such as diet and exercise. It is important to seek advice from your GP or another health specialist to support you in finding the best and healthiest diet and exercise programme for you.

How else can hypnotherapy help?

When setting yourself a goal for losing weight, it may be helpful to carefully consider your reasons for doing so. If you have been advised to lose weight for medical reasons and have struggled to achieve lasting weight loss in the past, hypnotherapy could be the perfect route to help you to achieve this goal and make improvements to your health.

For many, however, relationships to eating and weight loss can be closely intertwined with poor mental health or a lack of self-worth. Many choose to lose weight in the hope that this will help them to look better and thus feel more confident. Many dieters find that, even after reaching their weight loss goals, their confidence remains low and their self-esteem and mental health do not significantly improve. Many find themselves falling into unhealthy patterns and relationships with

food, exercise, and their bodies. A hypnotherapist is able to help with this too! Regression hypnotherapy, which places patients in a state of relaxation and allows them to explore subconscious memories from their early years of life can help clients discover and re-frame the problems and ideas that caused their feelings of low self-worth in the first place. If you are looking to change the way you feel about yourself and your body, then you may find it a freeing and revolutionary experience to directly combat the issues affecting your confidence and happiness through hypnotherapy.

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