Hypnotherapy for Compulsive Eating

Back in the spring, a dear friend told me about hypnotherapy. She told me that she knew of a woman who helped people to stop smoking and get over other addictions. Willing to do just about anything to help me with this eating disorder, I called the woman. Though she was retired, she was willing to work with me.

The hypnotherapist told me that though she worked a lot with folks who were trying to kick addictive behaviors, that she got most of her referrals from doctors as she was able to hypnotize patients who were afraid of anesthesia during surgery. I was pretty impressed with that part of her resume.

She said that hypnotherapy works best when the person getting “hypnotized” really wants to kick the addiction. That you need to be doing it for yourself, i.e. if you want to stop smoking, it should not be because your spouse says they want you to stop smoking, it has to be you wanting to do it for you.

Trust me, nobody wanted to do beat this compulsive eating more than me, so I was totally stoked for my appointment. She first relaxed me to a very deep state of relaxation (and it wasn’t by waving a medallion back and forth in front of my face). She explained earlier that a deeply relaxed mind was most open to the power of suggestion.

We had spoken prior to the appointment so I could tell her exactly what I was after – I was not overweight and looking to lose weight, what I wanted was to rid myself of the compulsion to eat in certain situations like – finishing my kids snacks, dealing with these amazing rolls at a certain local restaurant and how to deal with being faced with a dessert buffet.

So after deeply relaxing me, she had me walk through in my head and live out each of these situations, envisioning myself being successful at not eating compulsively. I even went one better and repeated certain mantras to myself (i will not compulsively eat my daughter’s leftover pizza crust, etc.). She was very patient and let me have all the time in the world to walk myself through each of these situations which often led me to compulsively (over)eat. Once I was finished, she relaxed me deeply again and she led me through the whole thing a second time.

She said she could tell from my breathing and eye movements that I was deeply relaxed and felt, after I told her that not only was I envisioning the success, I was mantra’ing myself through it both times, that I would definitely be successful.

When it was over, I felt very peaceful and relaxed, as though I had just slept for a week. As soon as I could, I grabbed a pen and paper and started writing down all the mantras I had just repeated to myself so I could refer back to them. For about two glorious weeks, I was truly free from the compulsion. I was thrilled, and was cautiously optimistic that the hypnotherapy really worked.

After those glorious couple of weeks, everything changed back to my “normal.” It was as if I never had gone through the hypnotherapy. At the appointment, she said that I could see her again for a “tune-up” in six months if I needed it, but I needed one after two weeks, and well, quite frankly, was let down that the effects only lasted that long. She also had told me that now that I’d gone through it once, that I could basically do it to myself again – just relax myself deeply and envision myself being successful at not feeling the compulsion to over(eat).

But life got in the way and I never called her back, nor did I ever try to self-hypnotize myself. Like most of us, I wanted the quick fix. I had it briefly, but i think 30+ years of compulsive overeating was not going to all be reversed in one hour. So since I was abstinent for well over a year at that point, I decided to just let it be. About five months later, I thought it was time to either see a therapist again or get the hypnotherapy again. Through another dear friend, I was able to find a therapist, a ph.d, who not only could do hypnotherapy, but specialized in compulsive behaviors and as luck would have it, was himself a recovering compulsive eater. Jackpot!

So I’ve been seeing him for a few months now and it’s so great to talk to someone who not only knows exactly where you are coming from, as people who have a normal relationship with food can never truly understand us, and has the education to help me deal with it. I saw him once a week at first to totally unload my brain on him, but now it’s down to once or twice a month. He really helps me to see the big picture and helps me to see that if I can ‘enlarge’ other areas of my life, this food area will diminish.

The end takeaway – there is no quick fix for this eating disorder. I am a work in progress. I’m slowly moving along, putting more and more days of abstinence under my belt, with hopes that with help, in time, this will all get easier. Slow and steady wins the race.

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2 Responses, Leave a Reply
  1. Jess
    26 December 2009, 1:34 pm

    That’s too bad. I’m trying to remember what I heard once about hypnotherapy . . . I think that replacement behavior works better than denial behavior. You replace the craving with a pleasant memory of doing something else.

    I’m sorry it didn’t work. I will talk to the hypnotherapist I know and find out her ideas on how to get the best results with hypnotherapy.


    love2eatinpa Reply:

    that’s a great point. now that you mention it, that concept totally sounds familiar. there still are no quick fixes, but the more tools we can have in our toolbelt, the better, right?


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