A New Approach to Overcoming Binge Eating: The Benefits of Hypnotherapy for Eating Disorders

A brown leather chair in front of a pocket watch on a chain. Hypnotherapy for eating disorders

Hello there, dear reader. I’m thrilled you’ve joined me today as we delve into understanding and potentially overcoming binge eating. As a therapist specialising in this area and a qualified hypnotherapist for eating disorders, I’m eager to share insights into the benefits of using hypnotherapy to aid your journey towards breaking free from binge eating.

Firstly, let’s define binge eating. It extends beyond merely indulging in an extra slice of cake at a party or overeating because you particularly enjoyed the meal. Binge eating disorder (BED) is a severe mental health condition characterised by consuming large amounts of food in a short time, often coupled with feelings of loss of control and intense guilt or shame afterwards.

Traditionally, treatments for binge eating include cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), medication, or a blend of both. While these methods can be effective (I am a CBT Therapist), I prefer a holistic approach when working with my clients, which may involve integrating techniques such as Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping) and hypnotherapy alongside traditional approaches. This is where hypnotherapy comes into play. Now, before you start envisioning swinging pendulums and behaving like a chicken, let’s clarify what hypnotherapy truly entails.

Hypnotherapy for eating disorders employs guided relaxation and focused attention to achieve a heightened state of awareness, often referred to as a trance. However, rest assured, you won’t be under someone else’s control, reveal your deepest secrets, or act against your values and beliefs. It’s akin to being so engrossed in a captivating book that you lose track of time.

Hypnotherapy for eating disorders works by fostering an overall change in mindset that includes motivation for regular physical exercise. It encourages positive feelings about eating less, replaces old cycles of thinking and behaviour with a confident “can do” attitude, and fundamentally alters your mindset towards food.

Hypnotherapy can help address the root causes of binge eating, such as emotional distress, self-esteem issues, or negative body image. By helping you relax and focus, hypnotherapy can enable you to better understand and alter these deeply ingrained behavioural patterns.

Research supports this too. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that hypnotherapy significantly reduced binge eating episodes in 75% of participants over a 12-week period. Another study in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis found that hypnotherapy was effective in reducing binge eating and improving body image among women with BED.

So, how does hypnotherapy for eating disorders work? During a session, the therapist guides you into a relaxed state where your subconscious mind becomes more receptive to suggestions and positive affirmations. This process allows you to access and reframe negative beliefs and thoughts contributing to binge eating. The therapist can also assist you in developing healthier coping mechanisms and creating new associations with food.

One of the key benefits of hypnotherapy is its capacity to address the emotional aspects of binge eating. Many individuals resort to food as a coping mechanism for stress, anxiety, or other emotional difficulties. Through hypnotherapy, you can gain a deeper understanding of these emotions and learn alternative ways to manage them, reducing reliance on food for comfort.

Hypnotherapy for eating disorders can also help improve self-esteem and body image. Binge eating often results in feelings of guilt, shame, and dissatisfaction with one’s body. Working with a hypnotherapist can challenge and reframe these negative beliefs, fostering a more positive and accepting relationship with your body.

In addition to addressing emotional aspects, hypnotherapy can also facilitate behavioural change. It can assist in breaking the cycle of binge eating by helping you develop new habits and thought patterns. By creating positive associations with healthy eating and promoting mindful eating, hypnotherapy can support long-term sustainable change.

It’s crucial to remember that hypnotherapy for eating disorders is not a magic cure. If you’re struggling with binge eating, hypnotherapy may be worth considering as part of your treatment plan. It offers a unique and holistic approach that can help address the underlying causes of binge eating and promote lasting change. Remember, you deserve to live a life free from the grips of binge eating, and hypnotherapy can be a valuable tool on your journey towards recovery.

During a hypnotherapy session, a hypnotherapist guides you into a relaxed state and then introduces positive suggestions and imagery to help change your behaviours and attitudes towards food. This isn’t mind control; it’s about empowering you to take control over your own actions and thoughts.

Finding a qualified hypnotherapist can seem like navigating a labyrinth blindfolded. But don’t worry! Look for someone registered with a recognised professional body and remember, it’s essential to find a therapist who makes you feel comfortable and understood.

Of course, hypnotherapy isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It can be beneficial when combined with other treatments, such as CBT or medication. I personally use hypnosis as an addition to my 1:1 therapy and create personalised hypnosis recordings for my clients to listen to throughout their time working with me.

Self-guided hypnosis can be a powerful tool to use in the comfort of your own home. Speaking of which, I have a library of self-guided hypnotherapy audios specifically designed to help you break free from binge eating and transform your relationship with food. I encourage you to explore them!

Incorporating hypnotherapy into your recovery plan can be as simple as practising self-guided hypnosis at home, or even just using the techniques to help manage stress and anxiety. Remember, it’s all about finding what works best for you.

In conclusion, overcoming binge eating is a journey, not a race. Hypnotherapy offers a fresh approach that can complement traditional treatments and provide you with additional tools to regain control over your eating habits. So why not give it a try? Your journey to a healthier relationship with food might just be a trance away.

Remember, if you’re feeling ‘hypno-curious’, my library of self-guided hypnotherapy audios is waiting for you. Here’s to a healthier, happier you!


The Journal of Clinical Psychology, a peer-reviewed forum established in 1945, is dedicated to the exploration, assessment, and practice of clinical psychology. The journal publishes research from all theoretical perspectives within the field, covering a wide range of topics including psychopathology, psychodiagnostics, psychotherapy, psychological assessment, treatment matching, clinical outcomes, clinical health psychology, and behavioral medicine.

One of the therapeutic techniques explored in the journal is hypnotherapy, a state of deep relaxation and focused concentration guided by a trained hypnotist or hypnotherapist. This mind-body medicine uses verbal cues, repetition, and imagery to guide individuals into a state of heightened focus and relaxation. Clinical research has shown that hypnotherapy can help alleviate pain, anxiety, aid in smoking cessation, weight loss, and improve sleep.

In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, researchers investigated the effectiveness of hypnotherapy in treating binge eating episodes. Over a 12-week period, it was found that hypnotherapy significantly reduced binge eating episodes in 75% of the participants. This finding underscores the potential of hypnotherapy as an effective intervention for individuals struggling with eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa, characterized by episodes of binge eating followed by purging.

However, it’s important to note that the number of participants involved in the study and their response rate were not specified in the provided context. In general, the sample size of a study influences the precision of estimates and the power of the study to draw conclusions. For instance, if a study aims to achieve a response rate of 30% from 500 respondents, about 1,666 people should be invited to participate in the study. Therefore, the specific impact of hypnotherapy on binge eating could vary depending on the sample size and the characteristics of the participants involved.


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The International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, a reputable publication with an Impact IF of 2.056 for the year 2022-2023, has recently published a study that sheds light on the effectiveness of hypnotherapy in addressing binge eating and improving body image. The study, conducted in 2023, found that participants who underwent hypnosis reported significant improvements in self-esteem, body satisfaction, and weight loss compared to a control group. This suggests that hypnotherapy can be a powerful tool in improving both psychological and physical health outcomes in individuals struggling with obesity.

The study’s findings align with a growing body of scientific evidence supporting the benefits of hypnotherapy. While the empirical support for hypnosis has been limited in the past, recent research indicates promising results, particularly in treating pain, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and now, Binge Eating Disorder (BED).

Hypnosis works by increasing self-awareness and self-esteem, which can help individuals avoid overeating due to emotional distress or boredom. It also shows potential in helping people cope with pain, stress, and anxiety. However, it’s important to note that not everyone responds to hypnosis in the same way. Approximately 20% of people show a large response, while another 20% don’t respond much at all. The remaining majority fall somewhere in between.

Despite the misconceptions and negative public image caused by stage hypnotists and TV shows, the scientific community is increasingly recognizing the potential of hypnosis as a therapeutic intervention. As more rigorous studies are conducted, we can expect to gain a deeper understanding of the full range of conditions that hypnotherapy can effectively treat.


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