The following case study is for those interested in now hypnosis is used to learn portion control. Most people with weight issues know they should eat healthily and exercise more but instead turn to get thin quick diets and pills. People dealing with pain, anxiety, depression and stress often resort to comfort eating, nutrition-free food rather than healthy options such as vegetables and fruit. A pattern is set, and the resulting weight gain often turns into to other health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Combining hypnosis with a weight loss program has shown to be far more effective when compared with a weight loss program alone (Kirsch, 1996) in 78% of patients. This holds true over time. It has further been shown that connecting people to their desired goals of being healthy, rather than to losing weight alone, is also more effective over time. Occasionally a negative anchor can be used as in the brief example below.
Brenda was overweight at 260 lbs. and stated that she could not pass cookies, cakes and candy counters in her supermarket without stocking up on them. Eating them later would lead to a bloating and sluggish feeling. During a series of 4 sessions, she began using a self-hypnosis ‘anchor’ for this uncomfortable feeling and ‘firing off’ this anchor when approaching the sweets. This simple technique helped muffle her previous need to buy them.
Unfortunately, creating an anchor, while helpful, is rarely enough. Work also needs to be done on improving self-esteem and dealing with past underlying events, as well as goal setting. The patient is led to discover, and resolve, imprints, fears and emotional difficulties around food that may have contributed to their current state. This case study demonstrates how a weight issue may be resolved by tackling the underpinning emotional difficulties.
Jenny: Carb Junkie
When Jenny first contacted me she was skeptical about hypnosis. After listening to a recording that I give my patients before our first session explaining how the process works, she relaxed much more. By the time she came for her first session she was excited about the prospect of hypnosis.
During our first session she entered into a medium trance despite her fears of not being hypnotizable. We soon established a ‘safe place’ where she could always return to where she felt comfortable and secure. She also developed a ‘waste disposal’ system to get rid of any unwanted beliefs she came across during her journey.
When asked, Jenny happily described how she loved eating pizza, pasta and cake. But when asked how food is broken down and what it does to the body, she quickly frowned. “I do like how it tastes, but it just turns right into fat in me”. We explored the benefits of portion control, and how bingeing on carbs was hurting her. When asked which was more important to her, achieving her goals or eating the food, she readily chose reaching her goals.
Using Jenny’s goal to detach from food cravings, I suggested she imagine the carbohydrates becoming fat in her body. She experienced a palpable repulsion by the carbs she had once craved, so we then substituted craving healthy foods that bring nutrition to her body. We began to instill confidence and self-esteem in Jenny so she would know that she deserved to be healthy and eat in a nutritionally sound way. She began to see the junk food as lumps of lard, which she had zero desire to eat. Using guided imagery she further saw herself at the supermarket gliding past packaged food shelves and instead filling her cart with fresh fruit and vegetables.
In the next session Jenny accepted a suggestion that, rather than craving nutritionally vacant food, she would instantly link them to the lard image and to their negative impact on her body. Jenny also did imagery work on her metabolism to create portion control. We created an image for her of a slow sausage with the sluggish contents stuck in places. With this image in place, she located a switch to get it moving, and a lever with which she could speed it up. We checked in on this in later sessions, and it gradually became faster. With the self-hypnosis that she learned, Jenny was able to monitor this technique on her own.
With this self-empowerment process in place, Jenny saw a steady, and healthy, weight loss of roughly six pounds a month. By then, just the idea of carbs, sweets, and salty food almost made her queasy. More importantly, this new lifestyle of eating nutritious, healthy foods made her feel positive about herself in a way she hasn’t been before.