I'm An RD & Here's Why I Use Meditative Hypnosis For Weight Loss
Contrary to popular belief, hypnosis is not about losing control. In fact, at its core, it's about enhancing your control over your mind and your body.
Think of it as a state you enter when engrossed in a captivating movie or a book: the outside world fades, and the inner world takes center stage. It gives some people the cognitive flexibility to see something from a new perspective and re-assess deep-seated beliefs.
As a dietitian, I'm always looking for new and novel tools to help my clients reach their goals. And I believe hypnosis is a valuable one—particularly for helping people reach a healthy weight.
How emotions drive eating patterns
Food choices are one (but far from the only) factor that affects body weight, and many of my clients come to me for answers on how to "eat better." But in my decade of practicing nutrition counseling, I've found that it's important to address not only dietary habits but also the emotional factors that contribute to them.
Psychological factors such as anxiety, depression, and poor self-image1 have a significant influence2 on weight and eating habits. Individuals experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety might be prone to emotional eating as a way to cope with overwhelming negative emotions. Other research has found that chronic stress disrupts the brain's reward system, leading to a heightened preference for high-calorie comfort foods3. Certain gastrointestinal imbalances, like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), are also associated with depression and anxiety4.
Understanding the intricate interplay between mental health and eating behaviors is crucial for developing holistic approaches to weight management and overall well-being.
At the end of the day, most of us know what healthy, nutrient-dense eating looks like—yet we still struggle to say no to sugary processed foods and other cravings. It's feelings that guide our decision-making process, and that's where hypnosis comes in.
How hypnosis can help people achieve a healthy weight
I've seen that this process can help reprogram negative thought patterns, increase motivation, and enhance self-control. Scientific evidence supports the notion that hypnosis can contribute to successful weight loss outcomes6 when (and this is important!) combined with healthy lifestyle changes.
So, how does it really work? Hypnosis involves using breathwork in combination with guided visualizations to send a signal to the body that it is safe to perform non-essential functions (a.k.a. enter "rest and digest" mode). During hypnosis, the mind enters a relaxed state. Theta waves in the brain give us the feeling of just getting up in the morning: We are awake, but not fully aware of our surroundings.
This allows the hypnotherapist to access the subconscious mind and suggest positive and empowering messages regarding healthy weight goals.
Milton Erickson, an American psychiatrist who utilized meditation, once said “Patients are patients because they are out of rapport with their own unconscious. They have had too much programming from outside—so much that they have lost touch with their inner selves.”
Over the years, I have developed a guided meditation that combines breathwork, theta healing, and hypnosis practices to help people get back in touch with their inner world.
How I use hypnosis in my RD practice
I typically meet with clients for a few sessions to address underlying issues and reinforce positive behaviors.
During the initial session, I help establish their weight loss goals and identify any subconscious patterns or beliefs that may be hindering the progress. Then, I guide my client into a relaxed state, known as a hypnotic trance, where the mind becomes more receptive to suggestions.
Through the use of imagery, visualization, and positive affirmations, I help my clients to reprogram the subconscious mind to support their weight loss journey. During this light trance, the subconscious mind is open to suggestions, and that’s when I am able to offer positive affirmation and the feelings that my client likes to embody.
Here are some affirmations that I find to be highly effective for promoting healthy weight loss:
- I love nourishing my body with healthy food.
- My body recovers, and gets leaner and healthier the more I eat with love and mindfulness.
- I look at myself and my body through the eyes of love.
- I love feeling energized and vital to be able to achieve all my dreams.
These affirmations are meant to foster confidence and self-love, which allow for a healthier body image and lower levels of anxiety related to food choices. After sessions, I also like to give my clients recordings of these affirmations. Those who repeat them for at least five days in a row report feeling less anxiety, and more joy and clarity.
How to be more mindful at every meal
My experience shows (and research agrees) that hypnosis can be an effective tool for weight management by influencing behavioral patterns, thoughts, and beliefs related to food and eating habits—though it always must be combined with healthy eating habits.
Ella Davar, R.D., CDN, received her education in Nutrition Science from New York University, and an Integrative Nutrition Certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Her book, Driven Women Wellness: Your guide to self-care, offers a cohesive list of priorities, plan of action and hacks that help her clients reach their wellness goals while managing busy lifestyles in a healthy way. Davar specializes in integrative anti-aging nutrition and lifestyle interventions to help women of all backgrounds manage weight, stress, diet, and various health conditions.