Hypnosis for Weight Loss
This week I interviewed Joan, a thirty-something housewife with kids, living in a leafy suburb. On the outside, she was in great physical shape, and gave the perception of always eating healthy food. However, she had secretly been a binge eater for many years. This is her story on how she used hypnosis for weight loss…
Tell me about your relationship with food
For most on my adult life, I’ve been a binge eater. I mostly eat very healthily…I know what is good for me, and not good for me to eat — but when I felt highly emotional, or bored, or stressed…or just when the opportunity arose, I would EAT!
I always ate in secret, when my husband and children weren’t around. The worst time was when my husband was working late and the kids were in bed, as I had hours and hours alone, and plenty of opportunity to eat. Sometimes I’d create an opportunity to be alone by “going out for a walk”, which was my secret code for going to the shop to buy chocolate.
What kind of food would you typically eat when binging?
Oh, the worst food! Basically I ate food high in sugar and fat, such as Nutella chocolate spread, chocolate bars, ice creams, pastries, biscuits and sweets.
How much food did you usually eat in one go?
It depended on how much time was available to eat. If I only had 20 minutes when I could be alone, then I ate continuously for that time. If I had 2 hours, I would keep on eating until I felt very uncomfortable…to the point of almost throwing up. There was no “off-switch” at all.
I might have eaten three family packs of Maltesers, a whole jar of Nutella, whole tubs of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, packets and packets of sugary sweets. I’d eat so much, that I couldn’t physically fit anything else in my body.
It was all or nothing — once I started eating something, I had to finish off the whole bag or tub.
What did you feel like after a binge session?
Guilty, sick, angry with myself and really depressed! It was all of those horrible feelings that I was trying to get rid of before the binge — I always felt much worse after, but I didn’t seem to be able to stop myself.
How often did these binge eating episodes happen?
Sometimes every single day. In between, I’d usually manage a few days of healthy eating with lower calories, and then would feel compelled to start binging again…it’s an addiction.
The longest I’d managed to abstain from binging was one month. But that was only with very extreme measures, of tracking my food, and giving myself non-food treats as incentives.
How did the binges affect your bodyweight?
When I was younger and not so concerned about my weight, I could easily put on 14 pounds after a long binge cycle, and then only lose a little of that, before getting fatter again.
I used to count myself lucky if I’d only put on 7 pounds over 3-4 days. That would then take me many weeks of not binging, to lose the weight.
Once I got fitter and reached my ideal bodyweight, people didn’t notice me regularly adding 7 pounds, and then dieting them off again.
Why did you decide to try Hypnotherapy?
In the past, I’d tried rewards systems, support groups and written out goals. Although I lifted weights to shape my body, and knew what foods I should eat (or not eat), I still kept falling into a downward spiral of binging.
Hypnotherapy was for me, a last-ditch attempt to stop the cycle. I wasn’t necessarily convinced that it would do anything for me, but I thought I would try it, as I wanted to get control of my relationship with food somehow. After some searching on the Internet, I found a hypnotherapist that specialised in Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy.
What is Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy?
“In essence it is blend of talking therapy techniques – a combination of hypnosis, Cognitive Behavioural therapy, tools from the world of psychology, cognitive theories or neuro-science and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) – It is a talking therapy with hypnosis,” says Richard Lepper, Marketing Director — National Council for Hypnotherapy (NCH), who is also a Clinical Hypnotherapist.
“The cognitive element of the therapy offers an individual the chance to understand or explore why these symptom or unwanted behaviour patterns may have developed. This is done on a conscious level. The treatment therefore works with both the subconscious and conscious minds.”
Tell me about your hypnotherapy sessions
I only needed two sessions lasting an hour each, plus a recording that I downloaded to my iPhone. It cost me £140 in total — but I’ve saved hundreds on food bills since then.
We had a brief chat on the phone to discuss my situation, and then in my first face-to-face session we mostly chatted about my past and significant events – some of which I hadn’t considered were triggers for my food choices. It felt therapeutic to discuss my past in an honest way, as binge eating isn’t something that you tell all your friends about.
The second session was a hypnotherapy session — relaxing on the couch with my eyes shut. She didn’t get out a watch and start swinging it around, or anything silly like you see on TV. 🙂
She talked me into a relaxed state, then I imagined myself floating back in time to my youth and focusing on parts of my history that could be traumatic or triggers.
A couple of days later, she emailed me a ten-minute hypnotherapy session that was tailored for me. I listened to it at least once a day for two weeks. The plan was to contact the therapist again at the end of two weeks, and let her know whether I felt under control, or needed to book another session.
But as it was, I felt pretty much under control after two weeks, and have done ever since. I continue to listen to the recording two or three times a week, to ensure my binge eating doesn’t resurface again. I also listen to it if I’m feeling really stressed, before going out to an event where I know there will be a lot of cakes and other food I’m trying to avoid, or having problems going to sleep, as it’s quite relaxing.
At last I find that I can cope with eating some chocolate or other treat once a week, and don’t feel the compulsion to eat the entire packet, and go on a four-day binge.
Would you recommend other people to try hypnosis for weight loss?
Definitely. It’s been four months, and I’ve not had a single binge episode. I now feel much more in control of my food. It’s a fair amount of money, but I’ve saved hundreds, by not buying junk food. If I’d needed more sessions, then it could have gotten pretty expensive at £70 a session.
I’d also recommend a free app called “Quit That!” — it tracks how long you’ve abstained from a habit you’re trying to break. You can also put in how much your habit costs you, so you get a running total of how much money you’ve saved since you quit. It’s motivational to look at the counter.
How to choose your Hypnotherapist
The National Council for Hypnotherapy recommend you seek a qualified and experienced therapist, who you feel is best able to help you as an individual — either through recommendation or through research.
A good place to start is the NCH website www.hypnotherapists.org.uk which provides a list of qualified hypnotherapists. We also recommend you call the therapist before hand, as well as consult with your GP / Medical Physician.
Be part of the discussion. I’d love to hear about your struggles with food, any tips to overcome it, or your experiences of using hypnosis for weight loss in the Comments box below.
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The patient’s name has been changed to protect the person’s identity. Hypnosis for Weight Loss and how to overcome binge eating.