By Dr. Mercola
Losing weight has become an obsession largely because there are so many overweight individuals. Estimates are that nearly 50 million Americans are dieting at any one time,1 yet nearly two-thirds remain overweight or obese.
If you’re one of those 50 million, then you may want to consider adding EFT to your toolbox. EFT, or Emotional Freedom Technique, is a powerful energy psychology tool for weight loss because it addresses the emotional blocks that underlie most weight-related issues, such as overeating tendencies and poor body image.
The film “Tapping for Weight Loss” features EFT Master Carol Look2 and Jon Gabriel, author of The Gabriel Method, as they assist a group of adults in clearing out the emotional barriers that impede their weight loss success.
Why Diets Don’t Work
Diets rarely work because they don’t address the stress and emotional underpinnings that drive you to overeat, or to eat the wrong foods. “Willpower” and self-discipline only gets you so far and is typically unsustainable over the long run.
Even if a diet helps you drop a few pounds, keeping them off is another challenge altogether—and typically even a greater one. Statistics show that nearly 65 percent of dieters return to their pre-dieting weight within three years.3
Those on “crash diets” fare even worse—only five percent keep it off. If you want to shed your excess pounds and keep them off, fad diets are not the solution. Permanent lifestyle changes are needed… ones that address emotional as well as physical factors.
Junk Food Manufacturers Work Hard to Make Their Products Irresistible
Not only do emotions play a key role in unhealthy eating patterns, but processed food manufacturers want you to crave their foods. In fact, they’ve gone to great lengths to make their products addictive with carefully calculated flavors, textures, and chemical additives.
For the most part, their efforts have been successful. In 2005 alone, Americans spent a staggering $60 billion on snack foods.4 Junk food manufacturers have taken flavor science to extraordinary levels, and the artificial ingredients used to produce that sought after “bliss point” can seriously confuse your body’s metabolism.
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Americans’ reliance on processed foods and sugar is undoubtedly one of the primary factors driving our staggering obesity rates. But rest assured: even these addictive pseudo-foods are no match for EFT!
EFT for Cravings—Far Better Than Willpower
When trying to achieve your optimal weight, EFT can be used in two ways. The first is as a means of managing food cravings when they arise. The second is to get at deeper emotional issues that are actually driving your undesirable eating behaviors.
Before getting into the deeper emotions, let’s look at how EFT can help with a sudden attack of “the munchies.” While food cravings certainly feel physical, they’re often rooted in unconscious emotions. Food works to temporarily suppress unpleasant feelings—those feelings we don’t want to feel. Cravings are an effective distraction!
By tapping on the craving itself—the cookies or chips you’re dying to eat and how badly you want them—you can reduce your stress and release some of the emotions behind the cravings. Once you do that, the craving diminishes.
In an Australian study5 involving 96 overweight and obese adults, EFT significantly reduced food cravings and increased the participants’ ability to show restraint—even after six months.
A basic approach to tapping for food cravings is outlined below. Be sure to also watch the demonstration video above, which shows how tapping can be used to manage cravings. Here is the basic approach:
- Identify a food you crave by visualizing it or imagining you’re eating it
- Tap on your activated thoughts (for example, “I want this,” “I have to have it,” etc.)
- Tap on each of the specific sensations or thoughts you have about the food (sweetness, saltiness, creaminess, crunchiness, how it feels in your mouth, how it smells, etc.)
- Scan your body for any tension, and tap on that too
When your craving settles down, try even harder to activate it. You can place the actual food in front of you in order to intensify your craving. If you indulge in the food, then tap on your thoughts and feelings about your indulgence.
Tapping may reduce the craving in the moment, but this alone doesn’t typically produce long-term behavior change. For lasting change, you have to delve deeper into the emotional underpinnings of your eating behaviors.
Diving Deeper into the Well
In order for permanent lifestyle changes to occur (e.g. diet, exercise, smoking, drugs, and alcohol, etc.) you typically need to address your underlying emotional issues—which is highly effective with a tool like EFT as stress is typically a major factor.
Chronic stress has a pronounced impact on food cravings and appetite, digestion, nutrient absorption, and metabolism, as well as being directly linked to abdominal obesity. Studies show the leading cause of stress for Americans is money.
If you have chronically elevated stress, then chances are your cortisol is not at optimal levels and rhythms, as chronic stress tends to activate the fight or flight part of your nervous system, which stimulates a number of stress hormones such as cortisol.
Among other things, cortisol cannot only deplete your muscle mass and cause your body to manufacture belly fat, it may also pave the way to diabetes, heart disease, and immune dysfunction. Elevated cortisol levels also impair the functioning of your prefrontal cortex—the part of your brain that helps you make rational decisions.
If your brain is swimming in stress hormones, then your reasoning may be impaired, which makes it even harder to make good lifestyle choices.
The Link Between Childhood Trauma and Obesity
Weight issues often stem from unresolved childhood traumas and long-standing anxiety or depression. According to EFT expert Steve Wells, anxiety is by far the most common emotion associated with weight-related issues.6
One of the largest scientific studies ever conducted about the relationship between childhood trauma and health, the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES), found a strong relationship between the number and severity of childhood traumas and the incidence of disease later in life, including heart disease, cancer, and obesity.
However, just because these emotional injuries occurred does not mean you are permanently impaired. EFT has been scientifically shown to reduce cortisol levels and anxiety. In 2012, a triple blind study7 found that EFT reduced cortisol levels and symptoms of psychological distress by 24 percent—more than any other intervention tested.
Old Emotional Wounds Can Sabotage Your Success
Emotions such as fear, anger, resentment, and guilt can hijack your best intentions and impact you on a deep biological level, making it difficult to shift unhealthy lifestyle patterns. Learning the basic mechanics of EFT is relatively easy, but identifying and resolving core issues that are largely unconscious can sometimes pose a bit of a challenge. If you have serious issues, especially those related to trauma or abuse, then I advise against self-treatment and recommend consulting a professional EFT practitioner.8 When tackling your weight with EFT, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Look at safety issues first. Very often, people gain unwanted weight when they don’t feel safe around someone or something. Ask yourself what was going on in your life when you began gaining weight, or in the months prior. Does it feel safe for you to lose the weight? Is it safe for others? Do you have issues around trust that may be coming into play?
- Issues of self-hate, unworthiness, or not being “good enough.” What’s your self-talk around your weight and your body image? Do you believe you deserve a healthy body? What is the “critical voice” in the back of your head saying to you?
- Rebellion against deprivation. Do you feel deprived? Are you rebelling against feeling restricted in the past? Whom or what might you be rebelling against?
- If the cravings weren’t there, what else might come up? Cravings are not the real issue, but instead a distraction. What emotion might you be trying to avoid… anger, loneliness, helplessness, fear? What is your truth?
- Your tapping target is an emotion. What’s the feeling behind your thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors? If you’re troubled by a past event or experience, what’s the feeling associated with it? The more specific you can be, the better.
Additional EFT Resources
In addition to managing food cravings and eating appropriately, EFT can be used to learn love and acceptance of your body, as it is—extra pounds and all. Shame, fear of failure, limiting beliefs, anxiety about change, and self-sabotaging behaviors can all be addressed with EFT. Hating yourself is definitely counterproductive to your goals, and one of the great benefits of EFT is identifying and releasing the thoughts and feelings that may be sabotaging your success.
The nice thing is, once you’ve learned the tapping basics, it’s always there at your fingertips—whenever and wherever you need it. The following are a few more resources to help you with your learning:
Basic Lifestyle Reminders
EFT should be an adjunct to—not a replacement for—a healthy diet and exercise program. If you’re struggling to shed those extra pounds, make sure you’re addressing all of the basic lifestyle areas. For more help with weight, please also visit our weight management section.
- Diet: Make sure you’re eating a diet of whole foods, not processed foods, ideally organic, low in refined sugar and processed fructose, high in fiber, and free of refined grains and carbohydrates. Make sure you’re consuming enough healthy fat.
Half of the population suffers with insulin resistance and would also benefit from intermittent fasting, which is one of the most effective ways to resolve insulin resistance and shed excess weight. Eating naturally fermented foods will help build your gut flora, which also helps you achieve a healthy weight.
- Exercise: Ideally, your exercise routine would include high-intensity exercise, interval training, strength training, balance and flexibility, and intermittent non-exercise movement throughout the day. Variety is key! I recommend walking 7,000-10,000 steps per day, in addition to your workout regimen. Also, seek to sit less than three hours a day.
- Sleep: Make sure you’re getting seven to nine hours of deep, restorative sleep per night.
- Sunlight: Spend some time outdoors in natural sunlight to help optimize your vitamin D levels, as well as giving you sunlight’s other health benefits. Daytime sunlight exposure can also help you sleep better at night.
Are you struggling to lose weight and keep it off?
** Please note that this post may contain affiliate links which means that I can receive a small payment if you make a purchase through my links.
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