What is hypnosis for binge eating? And does it actually work for unhealthy and overeating?
Do you ever feel like your life revolves around food? From holidays and birthday parties to dinnertime with the family, food is a big part of our lives every day.
Yet, often, we’ve been conditioned to have an unhealthy relationship with food. We’ve learned to crave junk, and many of us crave sugar. Some, for instance, use food for comfort during times of stress – they’re emotional eaters. Others constantly fight cravings to overindulge. And some turn to food when they’re bored.
The reason is simple: Our subconscious has been conditioned to use food as a safety blanket.
That’s right. Our subconscious – that large repository of information that controls 85-95 percent of our thoughts – wants us to feel safe. The fight or flight response is a natural subconscious defense mechanism; it keeps us safe when we’re in danger.
Those times when we’re giving in to the temptations of sugar, the subconscious is in defense mode when we’re actually safe. That’s why we’re automatically compelled to reach for snacks or overeat. Our subconscious has learned that sugary snacks or that feeling of being overfull equates to “safety.”
In other words, overcoming food addiction requires something more than willpower. Yes, you heard that right, you DO NOT need willpower to overcome food addiction. You simply need to retrain your subconscious mind to support and release those automatic cravings.
That’s why hypnosis for food addiction can be so helpful.
Hypnosis allows us to access the subconscious. And when we talk directly to the subconscious, we can begin releasing bad habits and retraining our subconscious to be a supporter. It’s actually a lot easier than it sounds.
You may be wondering, “How does hypnosis for food addiction work?” You can think about it like this: Hypnosis opens a direct line of communication with the subconscious. We can speak directly to it and feed it positive affirmations and new information to use. Thanks to hypnosis, we can reprogram our consciousness.
Food Addiction: A Closer Look
Food addiction has many clinical names, and people can have any number of unhealthy relationships with food.
Binge Eating Disorder, for example, occurs when people plan to eat an excessive amount of food regularly. A binge eater tends to eat thousands of calories in a short amount of time, often mindlessly, and these binges have serious health implications. The urge to binge is often irrational – hypnosis helps us manage and get these urges under control.
Compulsive overeating, on the other hand, is similar. Compulsive overeaters are often overwhelmed with cravings – for sugar, dairy, or carbs, most commonly. And they feel a lack of control over their cravings, according to the National Centre for Eating Disorders. Hypnosis teaches us to recognize cravings, and reprograms the subconscious to be more supportive in helping to overcome urges to overeat.
Finally, some people call themselves sugar addicts or carb addicts. Their cravings are for a particular food, and they can’t seem to kick their cravings for these unhealthy options. Hypnosis for sugar addiction, for instance, can help us reframe how the subconscious views sugar, and in effect, that can help us to release our cravings.
Regardless of the type of addiction, many food addicts experience similar symptoms:
- Eating quickly
- Continuing to eat even when full
- Eating even when not feeling hungry
- Secretly eating
- Feeling guilt or remorse for overeating
- And feeling compelled or “driven” to eat
So what causes this unhealthy relationship with food? Overwhelmingly, the root causes of our food addictions lie in the subconscious mind. We’ve been conditioned to attach positive associations with certain types of food, or overeating or binging, for example, and these associations are rooted deep in the subconscious.
How Our Thoughts Reinforce Food Addictions
Overeating, binging or intense cravings aren’t the problem – the issue is the negative thinking patterns that drive us to make unhealthy eating choices.
Unfortunately, these associations are deeply ingrained. We’ve spent our lifetimes conditioning ourselves to eat unhealthily.
Parties, weddings, baking cookies with Grandma – we’ve learned that sugary snacks and fatty foods are our friends. Many of us use them to reward ourselves, cure boredom or anxiety, and some of us eat when we feel stressed.
And very often, our cravings are triggered involuntarily. We experience stress and BAM! We reach into the cabinet and eat without really considering why.
We often don’t even consider our subconscious minds – that area where research suggests 85-95 percent of brain activity lies. And this is the area of the brain where food addiction lives.
Our subconscious thoughts are automatic, and they’ve been reinforced by a lifetime of experience. For example, after a traumatic childhood event, we may have found comfort in food, learning that food helped to numb feelings of pain or shame. As you can see, we turn to food for comfort!
Positive events can also be tied to our cravings. Imagine this: , Someone may associate sweets with baking with grandma. In turn, sweets are associated with love and safety in their subconscious. That’s why so many of us turn to food in emotional situations or when we’re stressed – we want to be comforted!
The good news: The subconscious can be retrained. Hypnosis helps us retain the subconscious naturally and effectively. And it's been shown to help with many conditions that are caused by unhealthy thinking patterns, like anxiety and stress.
Hypnosis can help us be hyper-aware of our cravings. We learn to recognize them. So often, they happen automatically, and without thought; however, when we learn to recognize them, we gain power over our cravings.
Additionally, we can use hypnosis to access the subconscious and provide this incredible repository of information with new, more helpful information. Think of it like pulling weeds in order to plant new, healthy seeds. For example, we might reframe how we think about junk food and encourage the subconscious to seek out and crave healthier options.
Hypnotherapy for Food Addiction: How It Can Help
By now, you have an idea of how hypnosis helps: It empowers us to be conscious of our cravings and reteaches the mind how to think about food. But how exactly does that work?
Here’s a look at some of the finer points of hypnosis for food addiction, and some of the many ways it can empower us to lead healthier lives.
- Mindful Eating: Almost all food addictions share a similar symptom: We often overeat without thought. It’s become a compulsion, and something that we don’t think consciously about. With hypnosis for mindful eating, we can teach the mind to be more aware of our cravings, of how full we feel, and of the actual act of eating. Hypnosis for mindful eating allows us to recognize cravings and physical feelings of hunger, and to be thoughtful of eating. We gain power over food and our cravings.
- Breaking Habitual Thoughts: All too often, habitual thinking becomes reactionary and negative. And often, our cravings or overeating is triggered by these thoughts. You might experience a stressful situation at work, and rather than taking a breath and saying everything will be OK, you start to think you’re underqualified, or the stress turns to anxiety. Without eliminating these spiraling thinking patterns, we can’t release our food addictions. Hypnosis empowers us to regain control of our thoughts, and turn our subconscious into a powerful ally.
- Repairing Underlying Conditions: Food addiction can be perpetuated by any number of conditions: Depression, anxiety, a lack of self-love, to name a few. Hypnosis can empower us to manage and move past these conditions.
- Restoring Confidence: A lack of self-confidence or love can prevent us from taking action. If we don’t have confidence in ourselves, or we don’t love ourselves, we may allow our bad habits to continue. Hypnotherapy is a powerful tool for gaining confidence and learning to love ourselves more. This is important for food addictions. When we love and believe in ourselves, we’re much more likely to face cravings and work toward making healthier lifestyle choices.
Self-Hypnosis for Releasing Bad Eating Habits: What You Will Do
People have a few options when it comes to hypnotherapy: One-on-one sessions with a hypnotherapist, listening to hypnosis recordings , and self-hypnosis. Self-hypnosis is one of the most convenient, because you can use it in the comfort of your own home or at the office.
It’s also highly recommended for food addictions. Check out this video to learn how to use self-hypnosis from Grace. As you can see, the process is simple. . Here’s are some points you may want to keep in mind:
- Note Your Well-Being: How are you feeling? It’s helpful to assess how you feel, so you can reassess it at the end of the session.
- Guided Breathing and Visualization: Deep breathing signals to the body and mind that it’s time to relax. Visualization is another method for initiating relaxation.
- A Guided Countdown: You may choose to countdown from 10. This helps the mind enter into a state of hypnosis.
- Positive Affirmations: Once you’re relaxed, you can speak directly to the subconscious. Offer it affirmations, positive suggestions designed to recondition the mind. For example, with food addiction, you might repeat something like: “I am free from overeating. I listen to my body to know when to eat. I choose to eat healthy foods in perfect portions. I avoid sugary foods. I feel healthier everyday. .”
- Visualizing the Change: After you’ve given your subconscious positive suggestions, visualize how you will follow the healthier path. See yourself living with a healthy relationship to food. This reinforces the idea and enables it to take hold and sustain.
Aversion Therapy and Hypnotherapy: Reframing the Mind
Sweet, salty or fatty foods carry a number of side effects. Overindulgence is linked to obesity, diabetes, a lack of energy, and even depression. This leads to losses in productivity, a lowered sex drive, and anxiety, to name a few. But yet, we’re still compelled to eat these foods.
What if we could help the mind to stop craving unhealthy foods? What if when we saw a brownie or chocolate cake, the mind didn’t say I want to eat a lot of that?
Well, aversion hypnosis is one strategy that trained hypnotherapists offer that can help us to do just that. It’s not always necessary, but for food addiction, it’s often one of the most effective solutions.
Truth be told, we’re not big fans of aversion therapy for most topics (we’d much rather have our clients focus on what they want, like a slim healthy body, than on a negative version of what they don’t want, like a cake covered in ants), however, when it comes to food and sugar we find that aversion therapy can be so helpful in tipping the scales for clients that we had to include it here as a possible solution.
Aversion therapy allows us to create negative associations with something, while creating positive associations with the better option. A hypnotherapist may start by saying that food is life. Food is natural and that it comes from a nature.
Then, they might create a negative association for junk food (i.e. that it’s harmful to us, or even that it’s poison for our bodies).
Remember: The subconscious wants us to feel safe. So when we eat sugary, fatty snacks and those reward centers light up, the subconscious thinks it has done us a favor. But it hasn’t.
Why not it simple for the subconscious?Retrain the mind not to think of junk foods as a reward, or as a security blanket – but as a harmful and unhealthy option.
Does Hypnosis for Food Addictions Work? What the Research Says
Most of the research into hypnosis for food addiction or hypnosis for quitting sugar has been conducted around weight loss. And the research is crystal clear. Hypnosis has been shown to be a powerful tool for helping people lose weight.
In fact, one study found that, on average, people who used hypnosis lost 20 percent more than those who did not. Additional studies have found hypnosis for healthy eating contributes to longer-term results, as well.
Hypnosis Has Significant Impact on Weight Loss
In 1986, researchers explored how hypnosis could help 60 participants lose weight. Hypnosis was used to help participants with ego-strengthening, decision-making and motivation. The group that used hypnosis – they lost 30 times more on average – or 17 pounds to just 0.5 pounds. (Check out our blog on weight loss hypnosis to learn more!)
Hypnosis Subjects Lost More than 90 Percent of Others
A meta-analysis of weight loss hypnosis research examined 18 studies comparing cognitive behavioral therapy – i.e. relaxation training and guided imagery – vs. those same therapies complemented with hypnosis. The results: Hypnosis helped people lose more weight and keep the weight off. Hypnosis subjects lost more than 90 percent of the non-hypnosis group and kept it off for two years.
Long Term Weight Loss with Hypnosis
One study examined how hypnosis supplemented a behavioral weight-management program. In the study, 109 participants completed a behavioral program with or without hypnosis. After 9 weeks, both groups had lost significant weight. But at the 8-month and 2-year follow-ups, the hypnosis group continued to lose significant weight, and continued to maintain their weight goals.
Start Your Hypnosis Journey Today
Want to overcome your cravings and stop overeating? The Grace Space app, our most popular product, offers several ways for you to get started. It’s like having your own virtual hypnotherapist available to you at all times. Start with self-hypnosis now, or try a food addiction hypnosis recording. Of course, you can always schedule a private, one-on-one session, as well.