Overview: Losing weight is a battle of the mind. Hypnosis for weight loss empowers us to beat cravings, attachments to unhealthy foods, and eating habits that make the process difficult. 

Close your eyes, breath, relax. Imagine yourself resisting the urge to overindulge. Imagine you no longer crave unhealthy foods and that you no longer feel the need to comfort yourself with food.

If only weight loss was that simple. If only you could “turn off” your unhealthy cravings…

These triggers are automatic, and they live in our subconscious mind. Hypnosis provides a way to update and reframe these patterns of thought.

Through hypnosis, we can identify what's preventing us from losing weight.

It might be attachments we have to unhealthy foods. It might be emotional eating habits. Or it might be a fear of failure or a lack of motivation.

Then, after we've identified the roadblocks, we can delete the negative associations and develop positive associations with hypnosis. In fact, the research continues to show that hypnosis for weight loss works and that it benefits many people.

How Mental Blocks Prevent Us from Losing Weight

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Say Clara starts a diet. She’s two weeks in, has lost weight, and she feels great.

But then something changes.

Clara starts a new job. She feels more stress and has less time to focus on losing weight.

She’s overindulging more often, stops counting calories, and she’s craving unhealthy foods. Her weight loss stalls, and before long, she becomes discouraged. 

“Habit patterns” might offer an explanation.

What are habit patterns?

Habit patterns are unconscious responses to stimuli or environment. They form through repetition and develop over our lifetimes.

Clara likely developed a habit pattern of stress eating which prevented her from reaching her weight loss goals. Food had become Clara’s unconscious, automatic response to stress.

These sorts of habits of mind are exactly why losing weight is such a challenge.

Deep in our unconscious minds we’ve developed strong ideas about unhealthy behaviors.

Over time, we may have trained the mind to believe that these unhealthy behaviors are essential to our well-being. And we might not even realize these habit patterns exist.

Once they become automatic, long-term change becomes very difficult.

Stress or emotional eating is just one example. There are many associations that negatively impact our relationship to food. Some common associations that prevent weight loss include:

  • Food is a comfort blanket; we use it to comfort ourselves in times of stress or sadness
  • Eating helps distract us from feelings of sadness, anxiety or anger
  • Overeating fatty, sugary or unhealthy foods is associated with celebrations and other good times.
  • Unhealthy or sugary foods are a reward.
  • Overeating helps you tamp the fear that you won’t be able to lose weight.
  • Food is a source of entertainment when bored.

Ultimately, you must address these root causes for long-term weight loss success. And that’s exactly what hypnosis can help us achieve.

Reframing Your Relationship with Food with Hypnosis

When you start a hypnosis for weight loss program, the first step is to identify why you aren’t achieving your goals.

How does this work? Typically, a hypnotherapist will ask you questions related to your personal health, e.g. eating habits, triggers, exercise. 

This information helps identify what you might need help working on.

You’ll follow an induction, a process to relax the mind and body and enter into a state of hypnosis. While in hypnosis, your mind is highly suggestible. You shed your critical, conscious mind and the hypnotherapist can speak directly to your unconscious thoughts.

In hypnosis, the hypnotherapist will provide you with positive suggestions, affirmations and may ask you to visualize changes. Here's an example of hypnosis for weight loss session: 

Hypnosis and Weight Loss: What You Can Work On

Some ways hypnosis can help you on your weight loss journey include: 

  • Improving Confidence. Build your confidence and self-esteem.
  • Visualizing Success. Visualize meeting your weight loss goals and the way it makes you feel.
  • Reframing Your Inner Voice. Tame an inner voice who “doesn’t want” to give up unhealthy foods.
  • Tapping the Unconscious. Identify the unconscious patterns that lead to unhealthy eating and grow your awareness of these automatic behaviors.
  • Fending Off Fear. Tame your fear of not achieving weight loss success. Fear is a No. 1 reasons people don't start. 
  • Identifying and Reframing Habit Patterns. Examine and explore ways you use eating, and “turn off” these automatic responses. Hypnosis helps to slow and/or eliminate these automatic responses.
  • Developing New Coping Mechanisms. Develop healthier ways to cope with stress, emotions and relationships. All of these can trigger overeating. 
  • Rehearsing Healthy Eating. Rehearse making healthy eating choices, i.e. being OK with taking food home at a restaurant. This helps these healthy choices become more automatic and can prevent cravings.
  • Making Better Food Choices. Hypnosis can help you develop a taste or preference for healthier options, as well as influence portion size.
  • Increasing Unconscious Indicators. Through repetition, you may have learned to drown out the signals your body sends when you feel full. Hypnotherapy helps you become more aware of these indicators.

Of course, not every suggestion will apply to you. Your hypnotherapy plan – whether you’re working with a hypnotherapist or using a hypnosis app – will include suggestions relevant to your relationship with food or help you stay motivated.

How Hypnotherapy Helps You Achieve Weight Loss

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In the hypnotic state, your mind is much more open to suggestion. Research has shown that changes take place in your brain during hypnosis which allow you to learn without thinking critically about the information you’re receiving.

Therefore, when you receive hypnotic suggestions, the critical conscious mind doesn’t step into question what you’re hearing. And that, in a nutshell, is how hypnosis can help you break down the barriers that prevent you from losing weight.

Repetition is critical for success. That’s why most hypnotherapists send you home with self-hypnosis recordings after an initial visit. The barriers in your mind are strong. Only through repeated work can you successful untangle and reframe these convictions.

Ultimately, hypnosis has been shown to be effect at:

Control Cravings

What if you could detach from your cravings? Isolate them and send them away? Some weight loss hypnosis techniques help you do this. For example, you might visualize sending away your cravings – say on a ship out to sea. Suggestions can also help you reframe your cravings, and learn to manage them more effectively.

Expect Success

Expectation dictates reality. When we have an expectation of success, we are naturally more apt to take the steps necessary to achieve that success. Weight loss hypnotherapy can plant the seed of success in your mind, which can be a powerful unconscious motivator to keep you on course.

Practice Positivity

Weight loss is so frequently spoiled by negativity. There are foods you “can’t” eat. Unhealthy foods are “killing” you. Hypnotherapy empowers us to reframe these suggestions with in a more positive light – you’re not depriving yourself; you’re shedding what you don’t need.

Prepare for Relapse

We’ve been trained to think that relapses are shameful – reasons to give up. But hypnosis asks us to think about relapse differently. A relapse becomes an opportunity to examine what went wrong, to learn from it, and be better prepared for temptation.

Modify Your Behavior

You achieve big goals one small step at a time. Hypnotherapy empowers us to make small changes that feed into to bigger goals. Say you reward yourself with sugary, high-calorie foods; through hypnosis you might work on choosing a healthier reward.

Visualize Success

Finally, hypnotic visualization is a powerful motivator. Visualization enables you to “see” results and explore how that makes you feel. You might also visualize your future-self telling you that you have what it takes to succeed.

Research Review: Does Hypnosis for Weight Loss Work?

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Does hypnosis work? That’s a question anyone considering hypnotherapy has, and it’s a question that’s interested researchers for decades.

The research tends to paints a positive picture of hypnotherapy’s effectiveness in weight loss programs.  A variety of studies have shown that hypnosis can lead to long-term weight loss, and that compared to traditional weight loss methods, hypnosis has higher success rates.

  • A study conducted in 1985 – one of the first to look at weight loss hypnosis – compared two groups. One group made diet changes and started exercising; the other did the same but also received hypnotherapy. After 8 months and 2 years, the hypnosis group had maintained or increased weight loss – the other group had gained most of the weight back.
  • Similarly, a 1986 study looked at 60 women who were 20 percent overweight. After 6 months, the hypnosis group had lost 17 pounds, while the non-hypnosis group had lost just a half pound.
  • A 1996 meta-analysis examined the effect of adding hypnosis to weight loss treatments. What the researchers found was compelling: During treatment, hypnosis almost doubled the weight loss. And after treatment, hypnosis increased effectiveness by 146 percent.
  • More recently, a 2014 study found that hypnosis had a variety of positive effects in weight loss. Participants who received hypnosis reduced weight and BMI, as well as improved their eating habits. Improved body image was another benefit found in the study.

Getting Started with Weight Loss Hypnosis

Are you ready to start your weight loss journey? There are many ways to start. You can visit a certified hypnotherapist for face-to-face sessions. You can schedule a virtual conference with a hypnotherapist. Recorded hypnosis or self-hypnosis are other options. All methods have shown promise for weight loss.

  • One-on-One HypnosisA hypnotherapist can help you recognize the unconscious barriers that are holding you back and guide you in hypnosis sessions to address those barriers. These can be conducted in office or via video conferencing.
  • Hypnosis App — Guided hypnosis recordings help you learn hypnosis techniques at home or on the go. Essentially, these are recordings from certified hypnotherapists that walk you through induction and then provide positive suggestions via the recording.
  • Hypnotherapy Books — Books like Grace Smith's Close Your Eyes, Lose Weight teach you self-hypnosis techniques, as well as the how and why hypnosis works. These books also include scripts and affirmations you can use to empower yourself on your weight loss journey.