Obesity is a widespread problem in the modern era. Human history has never seen a population so obese at such a large-scale. It used to be an “elite” issue at one point, not so much anymore. This problem is aggravated by enablers like cheap and easily accessible high calorie foods. Modern lifestyle also plays a role in encouraging this epidemic. People use cars, work on computers morning till night, and watch television for hours on their couches, to quote just a few habits.
However, an increasingly larger number of people are now trying to lose weight and get healthy. There are many fad diets where a person loses weight rapidly only to gain it even faster once the diet is over. Also, due to higher stress levels, many people have developed an emotional relationship with food. They eat when down and anxious.
In such cases, the results of diets are only short-term. The person gets stuck in the vicious cycle of weight loss and weight gain. Disheartened and dejected these people look for alternate methods of losing weight.
Gastric band Surgery
Gastric band surgery is one of these alternate methods of weight loss. It is a surgical procedure in which a band made of silicone is wrapped around the stomach of the patient to create a small sac. The sac created in the upper part of the stomach restricts the quantity of food a person can eat. Consequently, a person feels full after eating a small portion of food.
However, gastric band surgery is an invasive method and can result in various side-effects. Some people feel nausea and indigestion after the surgery and there is always the possibility of infections. Moreover, not everyone is eligible for this surgery.
There are certain criteria that should be met including the physical health of the patient. Plus, if eating habits are habitual and linked with emotions, then even gastric band surgery may not be helpful in the long-run as one might gradually begin to eat more.
There are cases where people bypassed their gastric band threshold and gained weight. In such cases internal traumas or complications can also happen. Studies on gastric band surgery have shown less positive results in the long run.
Gastric band hypnosis: a better alternative?
Instead of going for an invasive procedure, gastric band hypnosis deals with the problem at a psychological level. In this procedure, the hypnotherapist tries to convince a hypnotized patient that they have undergone a gastric band surgery. Therefore, the person subconsciously starts to eat less, believing that they have the band around their stomach to limit what they eat.
Most of the hypnotherapists approach this method in two steps. The first stage focuses on the patient’s eating habits and their stimuli. The second stage focuses on creating the atmosphere of an operating theater to convince the patient that they went through the gastric band surgery.
The science behind it
We have often heard about the power of the mind. How our positive thoughts can lead to positive behaviors and outcomes. These beliefs are often ingrained in the subconscious. Our subconscious is very important in determining our behavior as it continuously communicates with our body.
However, the mind is also very susceptible to suggestion. It is sometimes unable to distinguish between reality and what a person chooses to believe is real.
This is the premise on which gastric band hypnosis is based. It directly targets the subconscious of the person so that the change feels natural and has lasting effects on the patient. In this case, the person starts to believe that the surgery actually happened. Therefore, the mind believes that the stomach is reduced in size and needs less food to fulfill it.
Several scientific studies have shown conclusive proof that hypnotherapy for weight loss is indeed much more effective than other approaches. For example, a study conducted by Gordon Cochrane et al. and published in 1985 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (Vol.54, pp 489-492), found that people who underwent hypnosis lost on average 17 lbs compared to those following a diet alone who lost just 0.5 lbs – making hypnosis 30 times more effective than traditional weight loss advice.
How is it done?
In the first meeting, the hypnotherapist analyzes the patient’s needs. Inquiries about eating habits, health conditions, any earlier weight loss efforts and the patient’s relationship with food are made. Then steps are taken to determine what other techniques in conjunction with gastric band hypnosis should be used for the patient.
After the initial analysis, the patient is put under hypnosis. It is important to note that hypnosis can only be achieved with the consent and willingness of the subject.
Once in a trance, the therapist convinces the patient that they are going through with gastric band surgery. The therapist explains each step of the surgery to the patient as if the operation was being carried out. Every step from administering anesthesia and making an incision to inserting the band, adjusting it and finishing the operation is described vividly by the therapist.
Various sounds and smells of the operation theater are also used to make the experience more believable for the patient. After this, the therapist suggests other behavior modifications as well, based on his first analysis of the patient. These suggestions usually target the mental barriers that stop the person from achieving his/her weight loss gains.
In some cases, the hypnotherapist advises to get a regular checkup after the therapy to see if the virtual gastric band is still effective because in some cases reinforcement of ideas and habits is required.
It is much similar to follow-ups done after an actual surgery. Some hypnotherapists also inform the patients about self-hypnosis techniques to further support the treatment.
Why is it a good option?
Virtual gastric band has many advantages over actual surgery. It is also way better than other weight loss treatments out in the market.
- The person loses weight which deters the potential rise of diseases due to obesity.
- One starts eating smaller portions of food which assists in maintaining weight in the long run. Also, it means the person can eat whatever they want in moderate amounts.
- It is not an invasive method, therefore, no risk of any side effects.
- Since it is a trance-like state, people feel more relaxed and serene after the therapy. Their attitude towards food becomes more positive.
- It is much more cost friendly than the gastric band surgery.
- Unlike surgery, there are no criteria for virtual gastric band hypnosis in terms of weight and physical well-being.
- One does not have to worry about long waiting lists for the treatment.
- Also, no physical recovery is required as no surgery takes place.
Hypnosis only works when the person is willing and open to the treatment. Therefore, it is better to have a good relationship with the hypnotherapist. It is recommended that people research hypnotherapists in their area.
It is highly recommended to check qualifications, memberships and even reviews by other patients. It is also helpful to talk on the phone before an appointment to gauge the comfort level with the therapist. In most cases, the first interaction can tell if a person has established a bond with the hypnotherapist or not.
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- Cochrane, Gordon; Friesen, J. (1986). Hypnotherapy in weight loss treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54, 489-492.
- University of Connecticut, Storrs Allison DB, Faith MS. Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy for obesity: a meta-analytic reappraisal. J Consult Clin Psychol. 1996;64(3):513-516.
- Kirsch, Irving (1996). Hypnotic enhancement of cognitive-behavioral weight loss treatments–Another meta-reanalysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64 (3), 517-519.
- Weight loss for women: studies of smokers and nonsmokers using hypnosis and multi-component treatments with and without overt aversion. Johnson DL, Psychology Reprints. 1997 Jun;80(3 Pt 1):931-3.
- J Stradling, D Roberts, A Wilson and F Lovelock, Chest Unit, Churchill Hospital, Oxford, OX3 7LJ, UK (Short Communication published in the 1998 Journal of Obesity Vol 22 (3) pp 278-281)
- University of Connecticut, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 1996 (Vol. 64, No. 3, pgs 517-519).