Hypnosis for weight loss is likely to be one of those things you've heard of, but don't really know much about. And chances are, you're sceptical – understandably. How can being put into a trance help you slim down?
Turns out, hypnotherapy doesn't quite work like that... and there's a lot more to it than being 'hypnotised'. Prima spoke to the experts about what hypnotherapy is, and how it may help with weight loss.
What is hypnosis for weight loss?
Hypnosis is a state of inner absorption and concentration, like being in a trance. Hypnosis is usually done with the help of a hypnotherapist using verbal repetition and mental images. To achieve weight loss, you're more likely to see results from a specialist therapy.
Abigail Rogers is a Solution Focused Clinical Hypnotherapist at Bristol Hypnotherapy. She explained: 'SF Hypnotherapy for weight loss is all about helping clients change the unhelpful patterns of behaviour which prevent them from reaching their ideal weight.
'Often there are deep-seated emotional reasons for struggling with our weight; habits that have become ingrained over time or behaviours that we've learned. SFH helps you imagine your future without those barriers and helps "rewire" the brain so you can start responding differently for a positive outcome.'
Rogers also explained that underlying mental health issues may need to be tackled. 'We work on reducing general anxiety, which helps enormously with the body's response to food,' she said. 'When we produce less of the stress hormone cortisol, we have much more control over cravings, we behave much more logically, and even store less fat!'
Registered nutritionist mBANT and creator of the 7 Day Gut Reset Anna Mapson agrees: 'When we're stressed our body raises cortisol, our stress hormone, and puts us into a fight or flight mode. This hike in cortisol means we often crave sugary foods, as the body needs a quick fix of glucose.
'Any relaxation techniques that reduce stress around food may help to beat those cravings for cakes and biscuits.'
Does hypnosis for weight loss actually work?
There's no guarantee that hypnotherapy will work wonders, since it very much depends on the individual. However, Rogers said: 'Aside from the obvious benefits, I often find people feel much calmer and more in control of their thoughts and lives in general - this can have a huge impact on everything from success in relationships, to better self-confidence, to suddenly being able to deal with things they haven't felt able to tackle for years.
'Most people find their sleep really improves, too!'
And sleep is important – if you're not getting enough, you could be gaining weight.
Dr Guy Meadows told Cosmopolitan UK that not getting enough sleep each night actually has a link to having a higher body fat percentage.
'Sleeping less than 7-8 hours per night is linked to higher percent body fat. Research suggests that people who average 6 hours per night are 27% more likely to be overweight,' he says. 'Those who average 5 hours per night are 73% more likely to be overweight,' the doctor adds.
Mapson says that keeping in control of emotions where possible will be beneficial: 'If you were rewarded or comforted with food as a child you may have learnt to associate food with positive feelings and then when you need emotional connection you reach for the ice cream. But in reality the food doesn't actually provide the emotion, so we crave more chocolate.
'Breaking the habits and associations between food and emotions can be a powerful tool in weight loss.'
Are there any side effects?
Aside from a dent in your bank balance? You'll be fine. Rogers explained: 'There are no negative side effects because we can only ever change things you really want to change – a hypnotherapist can't make you do anything against your will and you are always completely in control.
'Being in a hypnotic "trance" is just the therapist using their skill to bring you to an altered state of awareness – much like a guided relaxation or meditation. Clients often fall asleep as they're so relaxed, but your brain is always listening and always able to respond to look after your best interests.'
Does hypnosis for weight loss work for everyone?
Short answer: no. Rogers said: 'I'd say it's very successful but at the end of the day there's no "magic wand" – nobody can just change you without your input.
'Good hypnotherapy is all about working in partnership – if you have a good relationship with your therapist and are keen to make changes in your life, then there's every reason for you to succeed.'
The NHS advises that you don't use hypnotherapy if you have psychosis or certain types of personality disorder, as it could make your condition worse. Check with your GP first if you've got a personality disorder.
When looking for a hypnotherapist, they suggest:
- choose someone with a healthcare background – such as a doctor, psychologist or counsellor
- if you have mental ill health or a serious illness (such as cancer), make sure they're trained in working with your condition
- if you're looking for a therapist for your child, make sure they're trained to work with children
- check they're registered with an organisation that's accredited by the Professional Standards Authority
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