The key to losing weight? Don’t diet!

It’s all rooted in the mind, says new clinic

Obesity is one of the biggest potential killers in Northern Ireland
There has been a sharp rise in the number of bariatric procedures carried out on obese patients in NHS hospitals over the last five years

For those of you who think a good old fashioned diet for the new year will solve your weight problems, one clinic is saying you should think again.

A new Belfast weight management clinic, which open yesterday, says that diets don’t work.

The NI Weight Management Clinic says it is the first in Northern Ireland to offer controversial psychological techniques to tackle obesity.

Instead of encouraging the medically-accepted methods of less calories and more exercise, this private clinic uses hypnosis and psychotherapy as treatments for weight loss.

It charges clients for treatments that claim to change their feelings about food, rather than treating obesity with diet and exercise.

Lead therapist Bridin McKenna said: “One of the worst addictions is to food.

“Moreso than heroin, cocaine or alcohol, because it’s so complex.

“We are bringing in a completely different approach to tackle this. Some weight loss programmes have limited success because they fail to address the psychological issues behind overeating. It’s time for people to accept that diets don’t work.”

Ms McKenna will work with four other therapists in Dunmurry to offer services including virtual gastric bands and needle-free acupuncture to achieve ‘nutritional rehabilitation’.

“All to often, food is a symptom of something greater,” said Ms McKenna.

“There is no real strategy in place within the NHS for overweight people and this obesity epidemic is not slowing down. You have to ask why people are carrying the weight and deal with their psychological issues.”

Some 61% of adults in Northern Ireland are classified as either overweight or obese. Ms McKenna says they are being let down by the treatments on offer.

“We have to normalise relationships with food and self-esteem in this country.

“There are lots of treatments out there and we aim to steer people away from yo-yo dieting towards therapeutic treatments.”

About 1,000 people are diagnosed as being obese in Northern Ireland every year — a problem that puts extreme strain on the health service.

In March last year, Health Minister Edwin Poots launched a 10-year strategy to tackle the problem of obesity in the province.

... here’s four of the techniques used by the clinic to treat obesity

A Virtual Gastric band

Sessions of hypnosis induce a deep state of relaxation, during which our unconscious minds are highly receptive to new or alternative perspectives and ideas. Designed to mimic the effects of gastric band surgery, the clinic claims the body is ‘tricked’ into thinking they have had a gastric band fitted. The client is talked through the surgery step-by-step as if on the operating table. Following the eating plan of a real gastric band patient, the patient eases from an all-liquid diet to solid foods.

Needle-free acupuncture

An alternative to conventional needle injection acupuncture. NFP locates the acupuncture points and treats them without needles

The clinic says either an electrical current can be passed through the points, magnets can be placed on the points and tapped, or a healing chip made from crystal is placed on the points.

Neuro-linguistic programming

A treatment based on the belief that what we say affects our mindset and perceptions. The treatment aims to change negative language patterns that can be damaging.

This treatment often uses the concept of how we view the world. Clinicians say each person’s internal map of the world determines their feelings and behaviours.

Emotional freedom techniques

A form of counselling intervention that approaches overeating as a toxic addiction. This treatment can include energy therapy techniques to “create a positive energy flow within the body”.

A client is tapped on different points of their body to calm anxieties about food.

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