SPOTLIGHT ON HYPNOSIS: OBESITY - A TRUE EPIDEMIC
by Jimmy Eldred Quast
Few of us are surprised nowadays when we hear that about 65 percent of the population in the U.S. is overweight, and 27 percent is clinically obese. Furthermore, excessive weight is ramping up the incidence of numerous other debilitating and/or fatal diseases. I, for one, do not believe this trend is merely one of genetic inheritance or bad luck. It has long been my passion and goal to look for the root causes of problems that beset us. In this information age, I believe anyone with some curiosity and research skills will find rich rewards for time spent searching out basic causes behind such things as our obesity epidemic.
Unknown to almost everyone, hypnosis has emerged as a great blessing for many who struggled for years with weight problems, believing that their desire to eat was simply greater than their desire to be healthy. I have also seen people who seemingly were doing everything right, but honestly could not take weight off, and if they did take it off, it came right back - plus a little more. Many times there seems to be no logic and no hope. As I said already, there are usually some good reasons for this perplexing situation, but those reasons could be rather surprising.
About 15 years ago, the American Dietetic Association made a simple statement that “Diet’s don’t work.” A recent study that was picked up by Dr. Joseph Mercola‘s newsletter, at Mercola.com, examined all the popular modern diets and confirmed that the ADA was right. Every diet, when examined over the long-term, tended to result in weight gain rather than weight loss. Diets require us to do things that violate our comfortable routine. We endure the restrictions and eagerly look forward to achieving our weight goal, so we can return to our former habits. I have to believe that there are many ways to lose weight, but the only ones that can work are those that entail permanent changes in habits and/or lifestyle. Those permanent changes must be comfortable ones. If you feel you are missing something, you will sabotage yourself sooner or later. Does that sound like a catch-22? How can I possibly make permanent changes in my habits that won’t require giving up things I love? In truth it usually turns out to be much easier than you might believe.
For openers, most of the overweight clients I work with have been eating for reasons other than genuine hunger and a need for nutrition. This is a complex subject that is personal and unique to each client, but I will attempt to give some easy-to-understand examples. Many overweight people eat primarily because they can’t relax. Time and again they find themselves standing in front of an open cupboard or refrigerator looking for something to make them feel better. Most of them readily admit that this doesn’t make them feel better, but they keep doing it anyway. This is called emotional eating and it is absolute folly to believe it can be overcome with willpower. Willpower might hold out for one or two rounds against emotion, but defeat is inevitable. Sooner or later, you will throw up your hands and say, “Who cares? It’s only me. I’m going to eat this whole bag of Hoo-Haa’s and nobody can stop me!” Of course you will feel lousy right after, and that just reaffirms the hopelessness of it all.
Whether the client is an emotional eater or just a habitual overeater, I often start by introducing my client to the blissful peace and tranquility of hypnotic trance. I record the instructions on a disc so they can take it home and have this experience every day. Useful though this may be, I am doing much more, because during the hypnosis I set up a post-hypnotic cue. Once installed, this functions like a switch that the client can use at any time to shut off an inappropriate desire for food, and quickly replace it with the feeling of comfort, which they were really seeking all along. All needs and desires are satisfied and a feeling of personal accomplishment is added, to boot. To set this up, the client and I must first agree upon what the cue will be. It might consist of touching two fingers together, grasping one wrist, gently biting their lip, or even imagining the sound of a word like COMFORT. Once we‘ve decided upon the cue, I induce a moderate level of hypnosis during which the chosen cue is strongly associated with a feeling of not only being relaxed and satisfied, but also a feeling that one has just eaten a bit too much. My clients often describe that last part as the “yuck” factor. Once this association has been established in their unconscious mind, the client need only execute their secret cue in order to temporarily produce the very real feeling of being so satisfied that the thought of eating anything brings the “yuck” response. The client is usually instructed to thoroughly enjoy three meals each day, but to use their post-hypnotic cue to comfortably eliminate eating at any time that is not a regular meal time. They also discover that it is effective to eliminate a desire for seconds, no matter how good the food may have tasted. It works in restaurants, at parties, and no one ever knows that the person is using a powerful covert mind technique.
There was a widely read article published in the February 27, 2007 issue of Women’s World Magazine, titled Hypnosis For Weight Loss “I lost 100 pounds--without dieting or working out!”
I must say this article did cause a spike in calls to my office requesting appointments. The woman in the article did not need exercise, but that is not always the case. Some people actually like exercise but just can’t get motivated. You might say they lack the exercise habit. With those individuals we certainly can use hypnosis to create a real desire and drive to engage in significant exercise on a regular basis. Of course, this new exercise habit must be personally crafted to fit each client’s lifestyle and preferences. There are others who hate perfunctory exercise, so we have to respect that as well. The reader may recall how I have often said in these columns that hypnosis cannot make anyone do something which they don’t want to do.
Many overweight people eat very rapidly and actually miss the pleasure and taste sensations of eating. Good digestion is predicated upon taking some time to enjoy our meals. Furthermore, you may be surprised to learn that the satiety response, which is the feeling that tells us we have eaten enough, is actually a function of how much chewing we do rather than how full our stomach is.
As a result, along with other hypnotic techniques, we sometimes use hypnosis to create a new habit of eating slowly like a professional gourmet - you know, those guys who make a living rating fancy restaurants. Interestingly, they are seldom fat. That is because they eat slowly and thoughtfully. Their satiety response kicks in naturally, causing them to rarely eat more than they actually need.
I have also found that it is extremely important to refer clients to good sources of scientific information about a few little known common problems with the American diet. For example, all diet sodas, even though they may have few or no calories, contribute greatly to weight gain because they stimulate appetite and signal the body to store fat. Another huge problem is that nearly all modern vegetable oils significantly slow metabolism making weight loss a losing proposition regardless of what method one chooses. My favorite source on nutritional information is the large and free website of the Weston A. Price Foundation. This organization is not selling anything. It is simply a place where talented scientists and medical people can publish their work.
It has been my experience, and that of many of my colleagues, that most overweight people will not only lose weight with techniques like those I’ve described, but the resulting new behaviors tend to become permanent new habits because they are pleasurable.
Note: hypnosis for medical issues may require a physician’s referral.