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4 Steps to Curb Compulsive Overeating Using EFT Tapping

By Carol Look

STEP 1: THE PRESENT

The first step targets the current and concrete behavior or symptom that the client reports is the problem. Obviously there are many layers under the symptom, but to attack these first is an easier way to get started. Also, some of the layers begin to emerge when you target eating behavior.

The primary EFT setup phrases that clients give to me about their “addiction” or weight problem are as follows:

“Even though I’m a food addict, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

“Even though I’m, obsessed with food, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

“Even though I’m a sugar addict, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

“Even though I crave sweets at night, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

“Even though I have an enormous appetite, I deeply and completely accept myself.” (we’ll get to the underlying cause of this “appetite” later.)

“Even though I’m a closet eater, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

“Even though I binge at night, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

I ask the client to tap for themselves three times a day for whichever of the above EFT setup statements speak to them and their problem. I ask them to do it in the early morning and late evening when they are not in the middle of a struggle to NOT eat. When someone waits until they have a craving, they are less likely to complete the process. Although they do it then as well.

Two more interesting phrases emerged with some clients that really seemed to help:

“Even though I have an urge to eat whenever I SMELL food, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

“Even though I have a craving whenever I SEE food, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

These are very powerful anchors.  Then I move on to the underlying feelings and anxieties that drive the behavior.

Classic EFT phrases that hit home with clients are as follows:

“Even though I eat when I’m bored, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

“Even though I eat when I’m angry, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

“Even though I eat when I’m lonely, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

“Even though I overeat to hurt myself, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

“Even though I eat to avoid my feelings, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

“Even though I use food to soothe myself, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

“Even though I overeat to hide myself, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

“Even though I binge because I think I’m worthless, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

Even though I overeat because I don’t love myself, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

I recommend that you and the client go fishing for whatever phrases ring true.  You will usually see it in their face or you will recognize when it hits home.

Two other key points that I find essential are regarding guilt and self-hatred. These are not motivating factors for someone who wants to lose weight, so help them to drop the guilt about their eating disorder.

Tap on:

“Even though I hate myself for overeating, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

“Even though I feel guilty when I overeat, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

“Even though I feel guilty about being overweight, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

Help them reduce these feelings so they don’t backfire and cause the person to eat even more as a result of the anxiety. I use the point on the index finger and say, “I forgive myself for overeating, or eating when I’m not hungry, or eating when I’m angry, etc.”

They need to forgive themselves for compulsive behavior that seems to be out of their control. The self-hatred must be reduced or you will not have long-term success.

A note about more guilt. I worked for eight years at Freedom Institute for alcoholics, addicts and their family members. The population termed A.C.O.A. deserves special mention. They are Adult Children of Alcoholics, and were raised by one or more addicted parents or caregivers. “ACOA’s” often suffer from free-floating guilt that would boggle your mind.

They report feeling a gnawing sense of never being enough, never being a good enough child to help their parent stop drinking. “If only I had been smart enough, good enough, clever enough, etc. mom would have stopped drinking for me.”

Of course this isn’t true, but eight year olds don’t understand addiction. Dig deep with clients who were raised with excessive dysfunction and get rid of the guilt or, again, you will not have long-term success. Many ACOA’s have sworn off alcohol because of their associations with the parent, and of course turn to food as a more “acceptable” substance. Underlying anxiety is often undiagnosed and untreated.

STEP 2: THE PAST

In this part of the treatment, I address basic self-esteem issues and incidents. I ask the client to write down or name three of the worst incidents that have hurt their self-esteem and tap for them. Often these incidents revolve around shame of their body, or their early eating habits. 

I ask which is the loudest memory? The stickiest? The worst? I also ask them to picture the first time they discovered food as a pacifier and address the underlying feelings that were going on at the time.

I also ask them about their family’s attitude around food, what the atmosphere was around the dinner table at home.  This often brings up new material, which I help them tap for.

We tap:

“Even though I’m anxious when I sit down to eat, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

“Even though I associate food with fighting, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

“Even though I associate food with my mother’s love, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

“Even though I feel unsafe without food, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

“Even though I eat to feel better, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

I ask the client to remember the sharpest criticism they heard around their body image, and peer problems.  I have them tap for shame or whatever the strongest feelings are. This step can uncover upsetting times that may need more work. Go slowly and respectfully and you will make tremendous headway.

STEP 3: THE FUTURE

I test the client to see how they would feel in the future if they couldn’t binge with freedom. I ask them the following questions and tap for the reaction:

1. “Picture yourself not being able to eat sweets in the evening…How do you feel?”

They often say anxious, angry, lonely or irritable. We tap for the response.

2. “Picture yourself as thin as you would like. What happens? How do you feel?”

This often brings up so many answers. Sometimes they say they don’t deserve it, or they feel anxious, or they don’t feel safe anymore without their shield etc…Sometimes they say they don’t want other people to be envious of them, or to comment on their body or appearance. We tap for whatever fears and feelings arise.

3. “Picture yourself addressing the underlying feelings that trigger the eating behavior. How do you feel?”

They often feel anxious or just “resistant” to doing it and admit that they would rather suffer with the eating and weight problems.

Tapping might go something like this:

“Even though I’m afraid to face my childhood depression, I deeply and completely accept myself.” or

“Even though I’m afraid to deal with the rage at my father, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

Then I address specific sabotaging behaviors and ask them what their theories are about why they might sabotage their progress. I ask them to say the following statements out loud and tap for whichever ones cause a reaction.

We tap on:

“It’s not safe for me to lose weight.”

“It’s not safe for others if I lose weight.”

“I don’t feel supported by my family members…” (I have often heard about clients who are offered chocolate cake just as they are getting going in their weight loss efforts)

“I don’t deserve to be happy with my body.”

I also ask them to say out loud “I weigh 125 lbs” (or whatever the goal weight is) and see what emotions come up.

As in some of the sports performance phrases, I have them tap on:

“Even though I have a block to weighing less than 140 lbs, I deeply and completely accept myself.” or 

“Even though I sabotage myself whenever I weigh less than 130 lbs, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

I also ask them to tap on:

“Even if I never get over this eating disorder, I deeply and completely accept myself.” and

“Even if I never lose weight, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

These two seem to help the inevitable feelings of desperation that most people with binge eating habits struggle with. The clients often say they don’t want to say these phrases, because it’s not true. But I urge them to say them anyway. It seems to reduce unconscious/energy blocks to losing weight and stopping the out of control behavior.

Obviously there are so many more phrases and issues you can have the clients tap for. It all depends on their particular patterns. The MUSTS as far as universal problems that get in the way seem to be shame, guilt, self-hatred, and anxiety.

STEP 4: THE EXTRAS

Apparently, restrictive eating, chronic dieting, yo-yo weight gain and loss and basic binge eating disturb the balance of our endocrine system and thus the metabolism. This is particularly frustrating to clients who have thought that occasional starving in between binging can help them lose weight.

The metabolism reacts by holding onto every last morsel of food, expecting to be starved again in the near future.

This often slows down progress in the beginning for some people, as their metabolisms rebel by slowing down. This is why you often hear people say they don’t eat enough food or calories to gain weight, yet they gain anyway. I ask my clients to read up on stress and how it affects the hormonal system, insulin production and basics of nutrition.

I know there is a lot of bad press about low carbohydrate diets, but talk to a carbohydrate addict, sugar addict, or someone who is hypoglycemic, and they will tell you that it does matter what kinds of foods they eat and when. They find that breads and sugars trigger a compulsion to eat more breads and sugars.

It makes sense when you consider the basic principles of addiction.

Alcoholics in A.A. know that “One drink is too many, and a million isn’t enough.” This is how a sugar addict feels.

Tap for:

“Even though I’m out of control, I deeply and completely accept myself.” or

“Even though I’m powerless over food, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

Tap for an imbalanced or slow metabolism:

“Even though my metabolism is too slow, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

“Even though my metabolism is imbalanced, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

You can always use daily affirmations such as:

“Thank you GOD for speeding up my metabolism now!” or

“Thank you God for releasing me from compulsive eating now!”

I ALWAYS do EFT tapping with clients saying the exact phrases they want to say. On many occasions, the clients have said that they can’t say “I deeply and completely accept myself.” I  say it out loud and eventually they follow.

Good luck and be persistent. Your clients will notice that they begin to “forget” about eating binges and planning their food. And they begin to be engaged in other activities other than secretive eating or food shopping. The weight will begin to come off as the underlying issues are addressed and the basics of symptomatic behavior are tapped away.