Weight Loss Hypnosis: Myth or Reality?

Dr. Christopher McGowan
October 26, 2020

The widespread and growing motivation for Americans to lose weight has spawned an entire industry of weight loss programs, products, services, special diets, and niche exercise regimens that all claim to be an easy and efficient path to conquering obesity. As most people know from experience, though, most of them don’t work, and some of them can even be deeply unhealthy. Some weight loss methods, on the other hand, are just a little weird, and perhaps the best example is weight loss hypnosis. But is this far-fetched-sounding methodology just a myth? Or does it actually have any legitimacy?

What Is Weight Loss Hypnosis?

Though the term hypnosis may conjure images of caped villains swinging pocket watches in front of sleepy eyes, it is actually a recognized psychological state of mind that can be induced in a therapeutic setting. Being in a state of clinical hypnosis is usually defined as a waking state of consciousness characterized by focused attention, suggestibility, and an altered state of awareness. For centuries, practitioners have attempted to use this suggestibility and awareness to bring about change in a person’s life, usually in the form of modified behavior or perspective. As a scientific concept, there is still much uncertainty about the effects and limits of what a hypnotist can do for you, but research has generally demonstrated that the basic idea has legitimacy. 

When used in a psychiatric therapeutic context, hypnosis is referred to as hypnotherapy. The core concept of hypnosis as a therapy is that an altered state of awareness can theoretically enable a person to be more open to ideas and behavioral changes than during “normal” consciousness. Hypnotherapy has been used to treat conditions as diverse as anxiety, sexual dysfunction, lack of self-esteem, and sleep disorders. And in recent years, it has also been used in therapies aimed at weight loss. 

How is weight loss hypnosis meant to work? Even though different hypnotherapists can have very different approaches, the general idea involves a hypnosis session that includes an induction step followed by a suggestion step. Induction involves helping the person get to an altered state of consciousness, usually through various relaxation and focusing techniques. Once in that state, the person is guided through a series of mental exercises that are designed to promote behaviors conducive to weight loss (such as eating less or exercising more).  

The actual mechanism of hypnosis is a matter of some debate. A certified hypnotherapist may use methods that function in a way similar to guided meditation; binaural beats and background music are even used to aid in relaxation and positively affect brainwave patterns. Some researchers say that the subconscious mind is more open to suggestion in these states and that hypnosis combined with psychotherapy can be effective in a way that traditional talk therapy usually isn’t. By using visualization and hypothetical situations, the theory goes, a hypnotist can help you change the way you think about things. In a weight loss context, this might mean encouraging healthy habits or discouraging overeating or emotional eating or even food cravings. In combination with a weight loss plan, the hypnosis can potentially help you be more able to stick to your goals.

Does Weight Loss Hypnosis Actually Work?

Like many nontraditional practices, the question of whether hypnosis works is highly debatable and somewhat controversial. Perhaps surprisingly, some research has been done over the years to investigate this question. One study found that a controlled trial on the use of hypnotherapy for weight loss had “statistically significant” but “clinically insignificant” benefits; they concluded that more research would need to be done but acknowledged that the patients in the hypnotherapy group did in fact lose more weight than the baseline. Another study found similar amounts of weight loss, but the patients in the hypnotherapy group additionally had reduced inflammation as well as a higher quality of life. 

Whether or not weight loss hypnosis actually “works” is secondary to another consistent finding in this research: at best, hypnosis can potentially be beneficial when combined with other psychological methodologies (such as cognitive behavioral therapy) and/or more reliable weight loss strategies. So in that sense, one of the best outcomes of weight loss hypnosis is being able to overcome some of the emotional and mental obstacles that often make it especially difficult to lose weight after years of following the same patterns. 

How to Lose Weight and Keep the Weight Off

The desire to achieve a thinner, happier version of oneself is powerful enough to lead us to some outlandish ideas sometimes. So even if hypnotic suggestion might have some role to play in weight loss, it would be unwise to rely on it as your primary weight loss method. In fact, even more traditional methods—like punishing and unsustainable exercise plans and fad diets — are rarely effective at helping you lose weight and keep it off over the long term. Too many people try something for a while and may even lose a few pounds, but within a year they’re back to the same weight. 

At True You Weight Loss, we hear stories all the time of failed attempt after failed attempt leading to exasperation and even depression at not being able to lose weight. Research and experience have demonstrated that just trying to control calories isn’t effective for most people, and it leads to frustrating patterns of yo-yo dieting. To help break you out of this cycle, we are thrilled to offer cutting-edge weight loss procedures that will allow you to put the struggle behind you and give you a chance to fully experience life again.  

One of the most popular procedures we offer is called Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty (ESG), and it involves using an endoscope to reduce the size of the stomach from the inside. Although sutures are used on the inside of the stomach lining, no incisions are necessary. That means that the procedure is fast and safe while also having a short recovery time. Most people will be able to lose 20% of their total body weight within the first year and then keep it off long after. The key factor in ESG’s success is that the smaller stomach size helps you feel full more quickly; over time, your body will adjust to eating fewer calories, and you’ll be able to naturally modify your eating habits.

Contact a Weight Loss Specialist

If you’ve been struggling to lose weight, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans are trying to lose weight every day, and some also turn to unorthodox methods sometimes because nothing else seems to work. The good news is that you don’t have to live that way! At True You, we focus on safe, reliable procedures that can help you achieve your weight loss goals. If you’ve had enough of plans and diets that just don’t work, request a consultation today to speak with one of our weight loss professionals. Freedom is waiting!

Dr. Christopher McGowan
Dr. Christopher McGowan
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