Hypnosis for Food – The Ultimate Guide
Food hypnosis is a huge topic covering every aspect of issues relating to eating. Most people think of food hypnotherapy as a subject that covers just weight loss hypnotherapy but in fact, hypnotherapists work with issues as diverse as picky eating to eating disorders such as binge eating. Today we are going to break down each of the categories that hypnosis for food covers so that a better overview is given of the huge array of issues that can be helped with this form of therapy.
Hypnosis for food looks at any form of problem that you may have with eating or food in general. We like to think of food hypnosis having three distinct categories. These are:
- Hypnosis for Weight Management
- Hypnosis for Selective Eating and Food Phobias
- Eating Disorders Hypnosis
When a client first contacts us for problems with food nine times out of ten they think they are seeing a hypnotherapist just for simple weight loss hypnosis but in fact, food hypnosis is incredibly complex. A good clinical hypnotherapist should always ask a potential client detailed questions about their problem to gauge which therapy would be best for them. As an example, we regularly get people asking for weight loss when in fact they have an eating disorder. A disreputable therapist may just take their money as hypnotherapy is unregulated and actually do more harm than good.
Let’s break down the many sub-categories of food hypnosis and discuss each in turn and how they can be used.
Weight Loss Hypnosis
Weight Loss Hypnosis is a huge topic with many subcategories but the primary aim of a client wanting this form of therapy is to lose weight. It should go without saying that this should be done only when it is safe to do so and when the weight is encouraged to come off at a steady pace of around 2 to 3 pounds per week.
The only exception to this would be in the case of a risk to life. Occasionally hypnotherapists are called on to help clients who need urgent medical procedures to save their lives. These incidents usually happen with a doctors approval where there is a request for a rapid weight loss regime so that an operation or medical procedure can take place. In all other circumstances, weight loss hypnosis should be used more cautiously. So how do hypnotherapists go about helping people to eat more healthy food?
Food Aversion Hypnotherapy
Food Aversion hypnosis is one that most people may be familiar with. A client arrives in a clinic and explains that they have a problem with a particular form of food. For example, they may state that they simply can’t stop eating crisps. A hypnotherapist can in most circumstances place their clients into a trance and start to associate the food that their clients love with something disgusting and vile.
During the hypnosis session, the client will be told to imagine the food but say now with a rancid smell. The hypnotherapist may discover that their client hates a particular food so they will play on their memories of that foodstuff and get them to imagine the horrible taste of it in their mouth whilst talking about the crisps. As the session goes on the aim of the hypnotherapist is to get their subject to associate the crisps with something they can’t stand. By the end of the session, the client usually is unable to even think about the food that previously they have loved.
For someone whose weight problems are caused by certain food, this may seem like a miracle cure but in fact, this is far from the truth. Whilst yes in many cases a client may never touch that food again others will simply move their attention to something else. So if they can’t have crisps they move on to peanuts. Usually, when this is the case there is an emotional element to the problem that also needs to be tackled. This is a subject we will talk about later.
Junk Food Hypnosis
Junk food hypnosis is another example of how aversion therapy can be used. Lots of our clients have lived on incredibly unhealthy diets of fast food and takeaways. These foods are filled with empty calories, saturated fats and additives. As with anything in life, an occasional takeaway is fine but fast food culture in many countries has caused many people to use junk food as their main source of nutrition.
Hypnosis for food in cases such as these can use aversion techniques to get clients back on track. In addition, motivation hypnosis may be used to get clients to prioritise healthier food choices. It should be noted that with any form of food hypnosis there has to also be a desire from the client to make changes as well. Suggestions, aversion and motivation work far better with a person who is committed to change instead of someone who wants magic to happen with little effort.
Hypnosis to Eat More Vegetables
Just as a client can be given an aversion to foods hypnotherapists can also make certain foods more enticing to tempt people to eat them. The classic example of this is with people who want hypnosis to eat more vegetables. Encouraging clients to eat more fruit and vegetables as part of a balanced diet is essential for health. So in these cases instead of making the vegetables seem bland and boring the job of the hypnotherapist is to paint a picture under hypnosis of how wonderful they are.
Visualisation techniques under hypnosis help to amplify thoughts and memories and hypnotherapists use these to help a client see situations in a different light. In order to help a client to eat more vegetables, a hypnotherapist may use words and phrases to make them seem more interesting and healthier. So words such as fresh, juicy and health-giving can be weaved into the suggestions so help a person to eat in a better way.
In addition, the hypnotherapist can get the client to imagine the results of their new healthier eating regime. They may get asked to think about their new energy levels or to think of the pounds dropping off because of better food choices. The key to this work is to determine what the client’s desires are and use them as a motivational mechanism.
Keto Hypnosis & Fasting Hypnosis
Hypnosis for food can also encompass helping people to stick with certain diet plans if they are considered appropriate. Two of the most common diets out at the moment are the keto diets and the intermittent fasting diet. Both of these diets proclaim to help people to lose weight and certain clients will ring for help asking if a hypnotherapist can assist.
As ever hypnosis together with a committed client can help to create positive change however it is important to exercise caution where faddy diets are concerned. Cutting our certain food groups or not eating enough food on certain days is not necessarily a healthier option. Plus these diets can be instrumental in making eating disorders worse.
Whilst hypnosis can help people to eat healthier, diets that are restrictive can create more problems than they solve. Eating a balanced diet makes far more sense than trying to follow the latest trends.
Hypnotherapy for Sugar and Chocolate Addiction
Hypnosis for sugar and chocolate addiction is another huge area for food hypnosis. Even though I have put sugar and chocolate addiction under the weight loss category clients who have the problem don’t always need to lose weight. In fact, many people who have a true sugar addiction tend to be either at a relatively normal weight or slightly underweight. This is because they will eat sugary foods instead of eating nutritious foods skipping meals to get their fix.
Aversion therapy is a common way of helping a sugar or a chocolate addiction but as we discussed earlier it is not always the best way to resolve the problem especially where there are emotional elements linked to the need for sugar. As an example sugar can sometimes be linked with love. If as a child you were treated to sugary sweets and chocolates by your parents when you felt upset the mind learns to crave them any time that you feel a bit down or stressed. In these cases, a hypnotherapist needs to work with the client to find a better substitute for the old habit which doesn’t have unhealthy consequences.
Hypnosis for Emotional and Comfort Eating
The reality is that simple suggestion technique whilst they have their place may not be enough to help a person lose weight. This is because there is often an emotional element to the eating patterns which needs to be tackled.
When a client works with us on our weight loss hypnosis programs we usually conduct some deeper analytical hypnosis to see whether there are other problems lying underneath the surface. It is not unusual to find that our clients are eating because they are stressed, anxious, lonely, guilty, upset or angry.
Discovering the underlying emotions related to a problem are so important as they enable us to resolve the actual problem rather than just seeing the surface. If our clients are stressed then we need to find mechanisms to help them lower their stress levels so their need for food is not triggered so often. If we find that they are lonely then therapy needs to be conducted to help them become more resilient and to find new friends to mix with.
Mindful Eating and Hunger Hypnosis
One of the very latest methods which can also be used to help people to lose weight is mindful eating hypnosis or hunger hypnosis. Put simply this is a form of hypnosis that helps our clients to focus on how their body is feeling to enable them to calibrate how hungry they actually are. This is incredibly important as many clients will have lost the ability to judge this because of the number of faddy diets and food rules they will have used over the year.
The key to mindful eating hypnosis is to teach a client awareness of their actual hunger levels rather than their emotional eating needs. Emotionally a stressed person may want to wolf down a packet of biscuits to make themselves feel better but when our clients assess their hunger level they often find this is almost at zero. Food is just a comfort rather than just a physiological need. Teaching our clients to tell the difference can make significant changes to the way that they eat providing they take the time to follow the mindful eating rules.
Practice intuitive eating with our mindful eating worksheets to help you increase awareness of your hunger and full levels. Our mindful eating printables contain food diaries, a meal planner, food shopping worksheet and much more to help you think about why you need to eat. As awareness increases over time you should notice changes in how much you consume. Combine this with our mindful eating and portion control audio to boost the effectiveness.
Gastric Band Hypnosis
Finally, on the subject of weight loss hypnosis and hypnosis for food, it is important to mention Gastric Band Hypnosis which was incredibly popular five or more years ago. This hypnotic technique was created to replicate gastric band surgery which restricts the amount of food that can enter into the stomach.
The creators of the virtual gastric band knew that in many cases a virtual operation may have similar results to the real operation. So they came up with a program that got clients to imagine they were entering a hospital for an operation. The sounds of the operating theatre were played as the hypnotist gave suggestions that an operation was taking place. In reality, the hypnotherapists are using the client’s imaginations to trick them into believing that their stomachs were smaller and tighter.
The interesting thing about gastric band hypnotherapy is that for many people the weight simply fell off. One of our clients lost an incredible ten stone from their gastric band hypnosis program. However, it is still important that emotional and comfort eating is also addressed as part of the program. This is because without this work the virtual gastric band is likely to fail unless the client is highly suggestible.
Hypnosis for Selective Eating and Food Phobias
Hypnosis for food also helps with problems that are not directly linked to weight loss in particular selective eating disorder and food phobias. A selective eating disorder is a problem a person eats only a very narrow range of foods. Typically these foods end to be carb-heavy and what might be described as “beige”. When we see clients with the problem they usually are eating no more than ten foods which typically are things such as pizza, white bread, crips, chicken nuggets, pasta and so on.
This problem typically starts in childhood and can be caused by two main reasons. Either the child was a fussy eater and the parents worried about them getting enough calories to grow. So when the child refused to eat certain foods the parents allowed them to eat the “beige” food because they thought at least they were getting to eat something. The other reason is linked with food phobias. An incident or a trauma happened around food that created a worry or a fear. The child then started to only eat certain foods as a safety mechanism.
Fussy eating hypnosis for Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder is based around helping clients to make healthier food choices and widening their repertoire of foods. At our clinics, we first assess the severity of the problem and whether a food phobia is involved or not. Generally, as clients are much more relaxed under hypnosis it is relatively easy to get many to try new foods under the safety of hypnosis. A good percentage of clients find that this alone is enough to help them eat differently.
When a client is unable to try new foods under hypnosis because of their phobia then we may regress them to find the cause of their problem. It is always fascinating to find out what began the problem and then to aim our therapy at the actual issue. One of our clients began their problem with food when their parents would have arguments around the dinner table. The anxiety related to food created selective eating. With just a few sessions of hypnosis, we were able to get him eating normally again. A few years later he sent us a note to say that since the sessions he had become vegetarian! Talk about a turnaround for someone who had never eaten vegetables before.
Cancer and Food Hypnosis
At Rewire the Mind we have worked with a number of clients to help them to eat following cancer treatment. There are a number of reasons why people’s appetites are markedly reduced because of cancer. Chemotherapy, for example, can make people feel nauseous making it difficult for them to eat.
If nausea has made the person sick a number of times after treatment then a problem called anticipatory nausea can start. This is where the thought of being sick can occur even if nothing is directly triggering the feeling. It is a psychological condition that can have profound consequences for appetite. As the person may have been sick after they have eaten a number of times they now refuse to eat in case they are sick again.
As hypnotherapists, it is important to help patients overcome this so that they are able to eat and build up strength during and following their treatment. Deep relaxation hypnosis techniques are shown to help anticipatory nausea. Studies show that the sooner this hypnosis is given the quicker the problem is resolved.
Hypnotherapy can also be used to get a cancer patient to visualise food and increase their desire for it by stimulating their taste buds through memory. By taking a client back to a memorable meal or food they used to love it is possible to retrigger their appetite. It is also possible to play on a clients desire to get well. The subconscious mind is there to help us survive so by tapping into its desire to get well we can override the worries of the conscious mind about food or of being sick.
Even though emetophobia or a fear of being sick is not always about food it is worth mentioning when we are talking about hypnosis for food. Many people with his phobia have an extreme fear of either being sick themselves or seeing another person being ill. In order to avoid the thing that scares them the most, they will take measures in order to prevent being ill.
Some of these avoidance behaviours might be not going near people who have been ill or avoiding hospitals. In many cases however food is also involved in the avoidance behaviours. Emetophobia may stop them eating certain foods that they seem to be unsafe such as food from takeaways or cooked meats. They may avoid eating out in restaurants or at other peoples houses because they can’t ensure that the food has been cooked properly.
When emetophobia takes hold it can make our clients significantly underweight because of the worry about becoming ill. Teaching our clients to eat a wide and varied diet and put their fears into proportion plays a big part in their recovery.
Hypnosis for Eating Disorders
Even though SED could be considered an eating disorder the third section will be concentrating on how hypnosis can help issues such as bulimia, binge eating disorder, orthorexia and finally anorexia. Each of these eating disorders has its own unique characteristics but in some ways, the root causes of the problems may have big similarities.
Using hypnotherapy for eating disorders is a much more serious business because in some cases a clients life may be at stake if the problem is not solved. Mortality rates for bulimia, for example, are roughly 3.9% whilst for anorexia, they are around 4%. These numbers are large enough for any hypnotherapist to have a concern when working with eating disorders. Where possible it is sensible for a doctor to have been consulted before any treatment begins for the safety of the client.
Hypnosis for Bulimia
Bulimia is an eating disorder where the client will eat large amounts of food and then purge that food afterwards to get rid of the calories. The purging traditionally has been thought of as the client making themselves sick but in fact, it also includes the client over-exercising to get rid of calories as well as using laxatives.
Hypnotherapy for bulimia needs to address the reasons why this may be happening to stop the pattern. Over the years we have seen certain patterns that appear time and time again which may be causing our clients problem with bulimia. These are:
- Over dieting
- Anxiety and Stress
- Feelings of Not Being Good Enough
- Low Self-Esteem
- Perfectionist tendencies
Suggestion hypnosis is rarely sufficient to help with an eating disorder. Instead, hypnosis for bulimia looks at the reasons why a client may be having the problem and helps them solve the underlying issues. All our clients are taught to eat mindfully and to ditch dieting for good. This is an essential part of work with bulimia and binge eating. The sad fact is that diets don’t work and when they are used by people with eating disorders they can actually make their problems significantly worse.
Stress and anxiety are also two major causes of eating problems. These need to be tackled early on in any treatment because once a client is feeling calmer it is easier to create other positive change. As ever work to address the emotional root causes of the problem is essential to stop the eating disorder. If a client feels that they are not good enough then we have to work with them to discover what is causing them to think like this as well as helping them to change those thoughts.
Binge Eating Hypnosis
Binge eating hypnosis is not significantly different from work around bulimia. The root causes of the problem are very similar and the underlying reasons are often the same as with bulimia. The only difference in binge eating is that large quantities of food are eaten in one sitting and then no purging takes place.
Breaking the binge eating cycle with hypnosis involves ditching dieting, teaching mindful eating techniques, lowering anxiety and stress levels as well as addressing the root causes. We also love to work on changing our clients negative self-critical voice to build self-esteem and self-worth. Our clients need to start to love themselves because when they do it changes their eating patterns.
Hypnotherapy for Orthorexia
Hypnosis for food can deal with relatively new eating issues as well as the traditional. Orthorexia hypnosis is relatively new and revolves around helping clients who have allowed “clean eating” to go to extremes. Orthorexics tend to be obsessed with eating only the right foods and eating “clean”. This means that they will beat themselves up if they eat something which is not on their approved menu.
Orthorexia was a phrase that has only been used since 1998 and has probably become more prevalent since the use of social media, magazines and advertising promoting ways of life that are almost impossible to keep up.
Hypnosis for Orthorexia teaches clients to stop all or nothing thinking. This is a form of a mindset that creates more problems than it solves. Nobody is going to have a problem with eating some cake. The problems occur if that person is eating that cake in large quantities every day. Teaching balance and normal eating is an important element of this form of hypnosis together with increasing positive body image.
Hypnosis for Anorexia
Finally, it would be hard to talk about hypnosis for food without discussing anorexia. Anorexia is so problematic because this is not normal dieting but a complete psychological aversion to food. The eating disorder can be life-threatening and typically occurs between the ages of 15 and 24 although more and more young people are being diagnosed daily.
Hypnosis for anorexia is a far more specialised area of food hypnosis because of the risks involved as well as the age group of the clients. To work safely with a client may require help from their doctors as well as their parents as many young adults with the problem are not able to make good decisions concerning their welfare.
Building positive self-esteem and body image is important when working with anorexia as is helping to suggest changes to eating patterns. Patience may be required in seeing changes especially if clients are brought by parents and are not necessarily happy to participate in their treatment. As ever having a client who is willing and wanting to change can improve the outcomes of the sessions.
Therapy for Food Issues
Hypnosis for food actually covers a huge amount of different problems relating to eating. The key to getting help is to find a hypnotherapist who does more than simple suggestion hypnosis as food therapy is an incredibly complex and diverse subject. We offer food hypnosis programs and self-help products to help our clients make positive changes to the way in which they eat. If you would like more information simply fill out the form below to contact us for more information.
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