Carol Solomon, Ph.D.
After a bad breakup, Sarah often felt anxious, depressed and saddened. She had never really gotten over her divorce years earlier and still blamed herself. Now life just seemed empty and overwhelming. Sarah didn’t have many friends for support, but she did have a carton of ice cream and she often turned to food for comfort. Sarah wanted to lose weight, but when life was hard, food was just “easy.”
Unfortunately, emotional eating doesn’t fix emotional problems. Instead of filling your emotional needs, you’re only filling up your stomach with food you don’t need. Eating may temporarily make you feel better but overeating quickly worsens your physical and emotional health by adding extra weight and bad feelings about yourself. Emotional eating doesn’t really “work” to solve emotional problems. It only makes things worse.
Weight loss is supposed to work by a basic mathematical formula . . . expend more than you take in, and you’ll lose weight. But the advice we have all heard (eat less . . . exercise more) isn’t all that helpful.
Why Eat Less And Exercise More Doesn’t Help
One simple reason – there are emotions behind eating that interfere with the desire to lose weight. Having learned that food can make us feel better, at least temporarily, we develop the habit of reaching for it when emotional tensions are high.
In fact, most overeating occurs in the state of tense tiredness. Many people function in that state all the time and it feels normal. Whether the tension is due to work, family or financial pressures, it all comes down to emotions.
The most common reason cited for weight loss failure is emotional distress; 97% of diets are broken due to emotional distress. Even low levels of anxiety and depression can cause you to lose focus, make bad decisions and deal with life ineffectively.
Stress can affect your eating habits. It can cause you to default to eating junk food when you are too fatigued or just unmotivated to prepare a healthy balanced meal. Depression can cause emotional hunger, which leads to craving comfort foods. The problem with that is that comfort foods are not really comforting, except what we tell ourselves in the short run.
Do you reach for food out of habit when stressed? Many people do. It’s what you habitually reach for when the stress feeling starts that makes the difference. Emotional eating is, in a way…normal. We all do emotional eating at certain times. We eat when we aren’t hungry; we eat when we are tired and when we are bored. We eat to feel better. We even eat to celebrate. Sarah often remarked “I eat for every feeling I’ve ever had!”
If we only ate when we were hungry and stopped when the hunger signals went away, then no one would have a weight problem. A small amount of emotional eating isn’t dangerous, but a routine habit of reaching for food to comfort not only damages your body, but also your confidence and self-esteem.
What do you do then with all of the anxiety and stress when life is hard? For this we need tools – eating can make you feel better in the short run, but the mistake we make is thinking it’s the only option. When Sarah realized that she had developed habits that were not helpful and created a vicious cycle for herself, she turned to tapping.
The Theory of Tapping
Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) or “Tapping” is a psychological use of the acupuncture meridian points that helps to alleviate physical and emotional problems. It’s been called “emotional acupuncture,” but I prefer to think of it as a form of acupressure combined with mental focusing. Instead of using needles, you tap with your fingertips on the body’s acupuncture meridian points as you are saying some key phrases.
While it may look odd, tapping is just a very simple stress reduction technique based on ancient Chinese medicine and modern psychology. We know from Albert Einstein that everything is energy. Tapping rebalances the energy system and increases the flow of energy through our body, as in acupuncture. As we use tapping to clear out and balance the energy system, we are making changes on a very deep level.
The Mechanism of EFT for Emotional Eating and Stress
Something very subtle is at the root of emotional eating. Unresolved emotional issues or traumatic events create blocks or disruptions in the body’s subtle energy system. These blocks create an “anxiety short circuit,” which in turn, causes the desire to overeat. The overeating calms the anxiety temporarily, but creates more problems in the long run.
EFT tapping has a very soothing and relaxing effect, much like acupuncture. Practitioners have been using it for years based on clinical experience and good results with their clients. But we now know why tapping has such a major impact on stress.
Tapping reduces anxiety and lowers cortisol, essentially stopping the stress response in the body.
With the anxiety gone, the overwhelming urge to overeat disappears. Tapping restores emotional balance and rejuvenates the entire body. It helps to reprogram your system so that you eat for nutrition rather than having to tranquilize emotions.
Tapping helps to tone down the negative emotions and stress, so food can just be food.
If you keep your energy system balanced and you stay conscious of when you feel emotionally distressed, then you have a much better chance of interrupting the automatic hand-to-mouth response and making more positive choices.
How Tapping Helps You Lose Weight
EFT tapping helps people resolve emotional issues at a deep level because it addresses the energy imbalance as well as the negative emotions that are creating the imbalance. As you resolve your emotional issues at a deep energetic level using EFT, your self-defeating overeating behaviors will likely diminish or disappear, usually permanently.
For weight loss, tapping allows you to follow a plan without getting hijacked by food cravings, over-relying on willpower, and without defaulting to binging whenever there’s a feeling to contend with.
Stop Addictive Cravings
Simply put, the cravings we get are often a result of stress, anxiety or a negative emotional event. Our bodies can actually crave high sugar and high fat foods in an attempt to medicate ourselves into a calmer state when we are avoiding our emotions or feeling a lot of stress. We don’t like to be upset!
When we are in those emotional or stressful states, our body’s energy flow is blocked or disrupted, creating a zzzzzzt in the system, like a short circuit. Tapping can eliminate those cravings almost instantly.
People generally pay too much attention to external factors, such as obsessively counting calories, and not enough attention to internal factors, such as emotions and what’s going on inside. Learning to deal with these moments without tranquilizing yourself with food can make a big difference in your ability to lose weight.
How Else Can EFT Help For Weight Loss?
Besides stopping addictive cravings, EFT can help manage and sort out the emotions that drive them. We all know that it’s not as simple as “eat less . . . exercise more.” Simply managing the frustration and discouragement around weight loss issues can be a helpful relief.
EFT can help manage negative thoughts and patterns, such as “I’ll never lose weight, so why bother?” These thoughts are self-sabotaging in nature, and counterproductive. Stopping self-sabotage is an essential piece of the weight loss puzzle. After all, what good is weight loss if you can’t hang onto it?
Many people choose tapping as a confidential way to work on emotional overeating issues. For Sarah, once she learned to use tapping to help manage her feelings and stress instead of numbing it with food, then the tendency to respond to emotions by consuming food quickly faded. The key is using EFT tapping regularly and working with a trained practitioner if problems persist.
CLICK HERE to get “EFT MADE SIMPLE” – FREE Chapter of Dr. Solomon’s Book – How To Stop Food Cravings And Lose Weight With EFT
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carol Solomon, Ph.D. MCC, is a Psychologist, Master Certified Coach and Certified EFT Practitioner. She is one of the world’s leading experts in using Emotional Freedom Techniques to help people lose weight without dieting, stop binge eating, and reduce emotions, anxiety and stress that lead to the urge to overeat. She is the author of 4 books on Emotional Freedom Techniques, the EFT Tips newsletter, the Binge Eating Teleseminar and the EFT Weight Loss CD. (http://www.EFTTips.com). She enjoys a thriving coaching practice and is passionate about helping others succeed.