losing weight and mental health

Losing weight and mental health

How much overlap is there between losing weight and mental health? Put it another way, should hypnotherapists focus on the weight, or look to improve mental health? There doesn't seem to be any quick fix when it comes to losing weight. Perhaps we should be looking at the reasons why people eat rather than worrying about how the eat or what they eat?

Most nutritionists agree that effective weight loss comes about because of a permanent change in thinking and behavior. The weight loss is actually a byproduct of these changes.

Eating and beliefs

I am not thinking here about anorexia, or bulimia or other eating disorders which clearly are clinical anxiety problems. I am thinking about people with normal lives who just cannot lose weight.

In my practice, I believe that behavior and belief is the thing to change when addressing weight issues. Focusing on losing weight instead of focusing on becoming healthy inevitably leads to putting the weight right back on again. In simple terms, even if all you do is to instill better habits and a positive attitude towards exercise, that still benefits them even if they don't lose any weight.

People who over eat seem to have built up a pattern of eating as a response to stress. If you take away the comfort and reward of eating, then this can just increase their distress. This triggers even more eating. Hypnotherapists should focus on teaching the client ways to deal with the stress.

Deal with the whole client and their lifestyle

We need to deal with the client, their environment, and their history, at the same time. This multidimensional approach will give better results than focusing purely on one one behavior. Eating involves a mixture of biological and psychological and social triggers and rewards. We need to address all of these simultaneously.

Laboratory studies have shown that drug addicts can get a high just by thinking about taking drugs to get a high. The habits and rituals associated with taking the drugs are an essential part of the high. It is likely that the same thing happens with people who use food as a distraction or a comfort. If you remove the eating and the associated preliminary behaviours then you are likely to over sensitize the person to environmental triggers. Changing their pattern of eating requires you to find substitutes for these emotional rewards.

If your client tells you that "maintaining weight is a constant struggle" or something like that, then it shows that you are dealing with a psychological problem. Look for the origin of that psychological problem and you will be on the way to helping your client take it off and keep it off.

 

David Mason

David Mason

Therapist at Wellington Hypnosis
David Mason is an experienced and university qualified hypnotherapist with 15 years of clinical practice. He has a PhD and a Masters degree in psychology.
He is highly regarded in the hypnotherapy community. He is Vice President of the New Zealand Association of Professional Hypnotherapists (NZAPH).
He is regularly consulted for advice by other hypnotherapists around the world. He is known for the quality of his published scripts. He presents at international conferences and has published on hypnosis and advanced hypnotherapy.
He lives in Wellington New Zealand with his wife Trish and a cat called Parsnip.
email: davemason@besthypnosisscripts.com
David Mason

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