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Better weight loss results with self-hypnosis

Self-hypnosis can help people who want to lose weight, as psychologists at the University of Northern Colorado discovered in the mid-1980s. The self-hypnosis took only a few minutes a day, but nevertheless resulted in permanent weight loss.

The researchers invited 109 people aged between 18 and 67 to lose weight by doing behavioural therapy for nine weeks. Once a week all subjects went to a therapist who taught them how they could eat less.

The therapists started by teaching the subjects to work out what triggered them to eat sweets. Then the subjects could avoid the triggers or teach themselves a different reaction.

Secondly the therapists taught the subjects to pay more attention when eating, and to be more aware of tasting the food they were eating. The better you can do that, the less you eat.

The other half of the subjects tried to hypnotise themselves a couple of times every day. They had to relax, and then repeat to themselves what they had learned during the therapy sessions.

After the ninth and last session the subjects then tried to keep up the patterns they'd learned.

During the slimming course it made no difference whether the subjects had only done behavioural therapy, or whether they had also done self-hypnosis. But in the following couple of years it did make a difference. The subjects who had only been given therapy maintained their weight, but the subjects who had done self-hypnosis continued to lose weight.

Better weight loss results with self-hypnosis

"The better long-term efficacy of the hypnosis condition may be the result of two factors", the researchers wrote as they thought. "First, hypnosis, when used as an adjunct to treatment, has been found to facilitate the acquisition of more adaptive behaviors. Thus, the subjects who used hypnosis as a part of their weight program may have been able to integrate more readily the program rules into their behavioral repertories."

"Second, and perhaps more importantly, behavioral weight-management studies that report successful long-term change typically have developed incentive systems to bridge the gap between the short-term reinforcers provided during treatment and the long-term goal of weight reduction. [...] The significant relationship between the hypnosis treatment and alterations in weight and eating patterns suggests that hypnosis may have served as an effective motivator for subjects to continue practicing the more adaptive eating behaviors acquired during treatment."

More on self hypnosis
To learn more about how you can use self hypnosis click here.

J Clin Psychol. 1985 Jan;41(1):35-41.

Low-carb or low-fat, weight loss better with psychological insight 05.10.2009

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