Imagine gathering up a big bowl of your favorite chocolate. Piece by piece, you add it to the bowl. Then imagine yourself walking over to the trash can and throwing the whole bowl away.
Do you have an emotional reaction in your body when I describe that scene? That’s not unusual, because most of us have a hard time throwing food away, but imagining throwing away a food you crave can elicit the strongest possible reactions. Picture the scene again. Imagine selecting those pieces of chocolate, then throwing the whole bowl away. Assess your level of emotional triggering, with 10 being maximum and 0 being minimum. Then tap and do EFT several times while picturing the chocolate going into the trash. The chances are good that your number will drop way down.
Throwing chocolate into the trash is something I do on a regular basis. On the second day of every Level 1 workshop, we offer a cravings exercise, and we bring chocolate into the room to allow workshop participants to experience their cravings. Most of them have a high number, with many at a 10.
What’s astonishing is to see what happens next. Sure, EFT brings their numbers way down. Studies show the average drop in cravings is 83 percent after about thirty minutes of tapping on emotional events in their lives (Church & Brooks, 2010).
That’s the last module of the workshop, and participants leave afterward. They gather their belongings, chat, make friends, and leave the room. The chocolate we used to test their cravings lies forgotten, strewn all over the tables. They get up and walk away, with no more thought given to the chocolate than to the empty coffee cups and water bottles in the room.
When I and the other workshop staff clean up, we then throw all that chocolate in the trash, because no-one wants it. In the course of my teaching career, I’ve probably thrown hundreds of pounds of chocolate into the trash after EFT Level 1 workshops!
Using EFT to reduce cravings gives you great leverage during a weight loss program. You can tap directly on your cravings, and also tap on specific emotional events associated with the item you crave. When cravings are high, your SUD numbers are high, and you have full access to the experience of craving. Periods of peak intensity bring the issue to the forefront of your awareness, and that’s the perfect time to tap.
A craving is a strong desire, an intense longing, for a special something. It can be for anything, even raw carrots, but among those who would like to lose weight, raw carrot cravings are rare. Ice cream, chocolate, macaroni and cheese, pound cake, cookies, and other filling, satisfying, high-fat, high-carb treats are the comfort foods that keep calling.
You might find it hard to believe that EFT can take away your craving for a food you find irresistible. So let’s try it in practice. Grab the food you crave most right now. Look at the food. Rate your intensity of longing on a scale from 0 to 10, and write down your number here: SUD before: _________. Then, tap on your Karate Chop point continuously while saying this Setup Statement out loud three times: Even though I have this incredible craving for ___________, I deeply and completely accept myself. Now tap through all the points from top to bottom while using the name of the food as your Reminder Phrase. After you get to the last point, rate your level of craving a second time: SUD after: _________. You’ll probably find that your number has gone down quite a bit. In live workshops, or Skinny Genes coaching calls, I find that most people’s SUD goes down by at least two points. A few people in the group are startled to find that their craving level has dropped to a 0. Congratulations! You’ve now had your first experience of using EFT for cravings. It’s that simple to get started, and you’ll unlock more and more of the power of EFT as you continue to use it.
If the simple Setup you just used doesn’t do the trick, enhancing the description usually will. Try smelling the item, tasting just a little, holding it in you hand, or doing anything else that might help you discover apsects of your craving that haven’t been addressed yet, and incorporate these observations into your Setup. For example: Even though that chocolate is making my mouth water and I can’t even look at it without drooling, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I really want those potato chips, and I can already smell how fresh and crispy they would be if I were to open that bag, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Once their cravings have been “tapped away,” people often find it difficult to taste, touch, or even look at the very same foods they were excited about moments before. Someone who loves potato chips will frown and say, “The whole package smells rancid.” A chocolate lover will complain that a fresh, expensive piece tastes weird or waxy. To appreciate how quickly and effectively EFT can work for your own issues, including weight loss and uncontrollable cravings, consider the following reports. Linda Compton started a “Roots of Weight” class and used EFT to help with the many addictive substances that contribute to being overweight. I think you will find her message filled with evidence about how EFT works in this area. Some people seemingly get completely over their cravings rapidly while others have increased cravings for something else.
At one point, I started a class for women called the Roots of Weight. There were ten women in the class and we met every Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. At the third class I taught EFT and the women tapped for everything from chips to cigarettes, Milano cookies, StarBucks peanut butter cookies, wine, and vodka.
One woman said she had the unusual habit of chewing eight packs of gum every night. She would fall asleep chewing gum, wake up two hours later, and eat a one-pound pack of raisins. Then she would chew more gum and fall asleep. The gum had to come from a particular store and it had to be Doublemint in the green wrapper and Spearmint in the white wrapper. She would repeat this cycle every night. She told me, “I have a master’s degree in psychology. I should be able to stop this, but I feel out of control.”
She tapped for the raisins only and ten days later, she still doesn’t want them. She told me she looked at the raisins on the shelf and thought, “Oh, there are those raisins.” She had no desire to eat the raisins. She didn’t crave them any more at all. And although she was happy about the raisins, she said the intensity of the craving for the gum increased. Next, she tapped for the gum chewing. She called a few days later to say that she had not had any gum, nor did she want any. She had four packs in her drawer and had absolutely no craving for it.
I spoke with her shortly thereafter and she said this is a miracle. She has been doing this behavior of chewing gum and eating raisins all night for two years. She made numerous visits to the doctor and was told not to worry about it, that it would soon pass. She even brought up the idea that she might have a nutritional deficiency, like a lack of chromium, but the doctor told her the research wasn’t in on that. She is ecstatic.
She is not the only one in the class who stopped cravings. Another woman eats five small donuts a day. She is down to one and a half. Another ate three bags of corn nuts last Wednesday and is addicted to potato chips, pork rinds, and anything salty. She told me she hasn’t had any of those items since she tapped for her cravings.
I tapped for sugar with the class and haven’t had any since. I have also let go of coffee, popcorn, and ice cream. And although we could be tapping for all these food items at one time, I know that particular cravings are motivated by particular emotions and sometimes physical conditions.
One friend let go of the grief she had been feeling for her deceased mother. There were songs she could not stand to listen to and is now okay with. Another client let go of coffee and her fear of selling real estate. She now is working full time selling real estate and teases me about “f-ing up her coffee thing.”
In my Roots of Weight class, these women are exploring the deep roots of their beliefs so that they can see clearly how the beliefs branch out to undesired behaviors, creating undesired results, such as undesired weight. One of the women found this so profound that she downloaded The EFT Manual to study.
This is so wonderful. The woman with the gumchewing habit demonstrates how large this whole energy psychology is. She just can’t believe she only had to tap once to heal it.
Whether it is chocolate, popcorn, or a special snack or dessert, our systems can develop a major case of the Yum-Yums and cause us to overeat many things. Collette Streicher’s client faced this dilemma with regard to peanuts and used EFT to effectively diminish her cravings.
Notice how Colette’s client started with a craving, peeled away emotional layers, and uncovered a supporting emotional issue. It’s the underlying issues we really want to address, so whenever you’re tapping, be on the lookout for them.
My client, Chris, sent me this great letter about how she eliminated a peanut craving with all the details and some humor, too. She hopes it can help others.
Dear Colette, I am writing this note to tell you how much the EFT has been helping me with food cravings. What I absolutely love about working with this tool is the flexibility and availability of using my fingertips to conquer problems that used to overwhelm me.
I have long struggled with food issues. I know I have a lot of great reasons to lose weight, but I could never get past the thought that I would have to let go of food that I really loved, especially peanuts. If I were ever stranded on a desert island, it would be a long, long time before I starved because you can bet I would have a huge pack of peanuts in my purse, one in a certain pocket of my briefcase, and if I had driven to that island, there would be a jar or two rolling around on the car’s floorboard. So, as I’ve learned, from you and others on the EFT website, I started with whatever feeling came up first.
Forced? Who was forcing me? I couldn’t think of anyone standing between peanuts and me. So I went with that.
Then I really got it that the act of chewing was about biting back my feelings and biting back my words. I could feel the anger in my jaws! By this time I was just tapping on the points with these Reminder
Then I felt sad because that was the only way I could express myself in that situation, so again, I tapped on:
Then I felt better, so I stopped. Most of the anger was gone. I didn’t test myself, because I was a little melancholy that I had to do all this work around peanuts and chewing. I could have tapped on the shame of having this issue in the first place, but I didn’t. I know if I had been in a session with you, we might have gone deeper, but I felt satisfied at the time. In fact, I didn’t really think to see if peanuts still had a charge with me. I started doing something else.
The oddest thing (though maybe not to you) was that I didn’t even think about peanuts again until I was in line at the bank and I saw the emergency package I kept in my purse. I hadn’t eaten peanuts in days! Then it became weeks. I can truthfully say I am not peanutty anymore!
Notice Chris’s references to anger, sadness, shame, and feeling alone. These are all aspects of the issue with her ex-husband. If the peanut craving came back after this session, or if the overall food issue persisted, I might look deeper into the specific events with her ex-husband, or see if there is something similar in childhood to address.
Alyson Raworth’s client in Scotland had a major chocolate craving. Notice how she amplifies the “yumminess” and appeal of the chocolate to truly tune her client into the craving. Nestlé’s Yorkies, which are popular in the U.K., are marketed as a man’s chocolate bar. In this session, Alyson has her client massage his Sore Spot on the upper chest instead of tapping the Karate Chop point while reciting his Setup Phrase. The two can be used interchangeably. For more about the Sore Spot, see Appendix A.
A friend was struggling with her weight issues. I introduced her to a basic routine of EFT to help eliminate her chocolate cravings, which were the major contributor to her overweight problem. But when she tapped for her chocolate cravings directly, it did not help at all. When we talked about it later on, she told me about her childhood in poverty and how she could not have candies or chocolates then. Now that she is an adult she wants the chocolates she could not have as a child. I suggested tapping on:
Three weeks later she contacted me again, very happy. She says that by doing the tapping in this way her craving totally disappeared. Now she is losing weight and feeling much better. Needless to say she is using EFT for a lot of issues in her life and for her family as well.
Something interesting to mention here is that I have never met my friend in person. We got in touch through a Spanish EFT webpage that I own. All the conversations and ideas shared have been done through instant messages and emails!
In the preceding case, Sergio was able to find some underlying emotional issues connected to the craving and apparently didn’t have to go any further. When using EFT for your own craving, if you have tapped on similar issues and still aren’t seeing results, you could be more specific by working with the events themselves, like “the time when my father wouldn’t let me have chocolate…” and any others that cause intensity. Once all the related memories have lost their “grip,” that part of the issue is likely to be released for good.
In this next article by Dr. Shelley Malka, you will see how she helped her client get to the true emotional issues behind cravings that just wouldn’t go away. Notice how the tapping process and Shelley’s gentle suggestions along the way reduced a frustrating craving down to what seems to be a specific event. Also note how Shelley was able to address the event even though she didn’t know any of the details. This case illustrates why it is often important to seek the help of an experienced professional for best results.
The following story demonstrates clearly that any craving or addiction is not about the object we crave at all. Rather, the craved object is a substitute for anxiety that lies beneath the addiction. Once we access that disallowed or forbidden feeling, the craving disappears as if by magic. And you as the therapist or helper don’t have to know what’s really going on for this process to work wonders.
Odette was a client I knew well. She called me over the phone one day asking me to please help her work through her craving for chocolate and cake that had been with her the last few days. Intensity for these foods was building and she knew she couldn’t hold out much longer on her own without blowing her diet.
She had tapped consistently but couldn’t get to whatever it was that was clearly holding up her craving. “What triggered this?” I asked. “You’ve been much better with chocolate and cake recently.” “I know I have,” she said. “That’s why I’m so frustrated. I just can’t work this one out and the craving is ballooning.”
“Okay,” I said. “Just go to the Karate Chop point and let’s start.”
Even though I don’t know what triggered this… I was doing fine…doing much better…and then the last few days I haven’t been able to get cake out of my mind…and chocolate…I don’t know why…
Nothing emerged and, looking for a door to go in, I asked if she had a craving right then. She said, “No, not right now, but I know that if I wasn’t on the phone to you, I’d head straight for the chocolate.” “You don’t have the craving now perhaps because I’m here and you feel safe.” I let her tap on this awareness a bit. “When did you have this craving? Could you allow your inner mind to go to where you were, what was happening when you first noticed this feeling of needing cake?” Tap, tap.
“Well I think the first time I started this cakefeeling I was in the car. If there’d been a place to buy chocolate, I think I would have stopped right there.” “Go into that moment,” I suggested “Just be in the car and allow that feeling to surface…I’m in the car…just tap around the points in the car and all of a sudden I want cake…all of a sudden I’m looking around for somewhere to buy chocolate.” Her level of intensity was between 5 and 6 on a scale of 0 to 10. Even though I’m a 5 or 6 right now…And I don’t know what it is…Even though it’s intensifying, that’s good, that’s why I phoned you, to find out what this is…
At that moment, she burst out crying. “I think I do know,” she said. “I can’t believe it’s this…I had no idea. I can’t believe it’s this…but that’s what’s coming up.”
We tapped a few rounds on “this awareness… this realization.” Then she said, “And it’s a lose-lose situation!” I immediately referred her back to the Karate Chop point.
Even though it’s a lose-lose situation…
Even though no matter what I do, I’ll lose out… We did quite a bit of this. I didn’t add anything. I wanted whatever needed to surface, to just float up to consciousness. We tapped on the feelings that arose.
Even though I’m scared…
Whenever there’s a fear we’re afraid to face—fear of the fear as it’s often called—we’re usually holding an underlying belief that if we know what that fear is, we won’t be able to cope with it. So I threw this in: Even though I’m scared, and I don’t know if I can handle it…And that’s making me crave chocolate and cake…
“That’s right!” she exclaimed. “I don’t!” More sobs. I backtracked here so she could process the steps and integrate the parts as we traveled round and round the points:
It’s a lose-lose situation and I’m scared because I don’t know if I can handle it…no matter what I do, I’ll lose and I don’t know if I can handle that…it’s making me crave chocolate and cake because I’m so anxious about this lose-lose…I want to stuff it down with chocolate and cake.
“Anything!” she cried. “Even chicken and potatoes!” Well, this was a new aspect she hadn’t realized before, so I took her back to the Karate Chop point:
Even though this lose-lose is making me crave anything, even chicken and potatoes, and it’s all to keep my anxiety down…
This anxiety that I can’t handle the lose-lose…this anxiety that I can’t handle my feelings about this loselose… calming this anxiety with any food so that I can obsess about food and my weight rather than deal with this lose-lose anxiety.
“Yeah,” she agreed, “that’s what I do, all right.” But she was definitely calmer, having found the issue underpinning her craving.
We checked her craving. She was still a 4 or 5 on the 0-to-10 scale, even though she had stopped crying. “It’s because I haven’t found the core yet,” she said. “And I’m anxious about not finding it.”
We did a whole lot more tapping on this—to calm her, to make her anxiety okay, to challenge the assumptions in her unconscious mind that she couldn’t handle the lose-lose (whatever that was, since I had no clue). I asked what the craving was like and she said it was still 4 or 5 out of 10 “because I don’t know how he’ll take it.” Here was another aspect that slipped out, so seemingly innocuous as to have us believe she’d known about it all along.
Even though I don’t know how he’ll take it…
Her tears and sobs started up again.
Even though I have no idea how he’ll take it and that’s the real concern, the real anxiety…up to now I haven’t allowed myself to know how anxious I am about that…I was scared I wouldn’t be able to handle it…I truly was scared to know this because it seemed too big for me…
By now her voice was softer and more pliable. Things had changed. So we checked her craving again. “It’s much better!” she said. “I don’t need the chocolate anymore!”
I asked her to do what she could to get that craving back either for chocolate, or cake or chicken and potatoes or anything I got her to make the images bigger and brighter and smell the chocolate in her mind…
but the craving was gone. Furthermore, Odette not only knew she could now handle her feelings about how he’d take it but it was also no longer lose-lose. She had found a solution to make it easy.
I said, “So now that you know what IT is, you can tap for that, without me, and you no longer have to eat yourself into oblivion.” She laughed again. “I feel such relief. It always amazes me how it’s never about the cake or the chocolate, is it?” I said goodbye to Odette and looked at my watch. The entire session had taken approximately fifteen minutes. And I never did find out what “it” was.
EFT usually gets rid of immediate cravings in short order. When that doesn’t happen, there is almost always a deeper issue behind the craving. Such was the case in this article by Ilana Weiler from Israel. Note how important memories showed up during the EFT process, pointing the way to the problem’s core issue.
Recently I attended a birthday party and had the pleasure of meeting a group of amazing women. I assume we all know that scenario where we find ourselves in a social gathering and sooner or later the subject of EFT is brought up. One of the women said, “What is this EFT? Is it this stupid thing where one taps on himself looking like a monkey?”
Well, that’s a chance to catch the ball. She is a highly positioned doctor but, nonetheless, I asked her if she would like to try it. To my great surprise, she agreed. I am writing all the details of this event to encourage you, the reader who doesn’t yet feel confident with EFT, to not only Try It on Everything but also Try It on Everybody—anytime.
So this woman (I will call her Lea), wanted to try EFT for her uncontrollable desire for sweets. I asked her what on the table she wanted to eat the most. She said she wanted everything, but mostly the cake. On the scale of 0 to 10 she wanted it at a level of 8. I asked her what it was about that cake that she wanted so much. She said it was the sweetness of it.
We used the words sweet, sweet cake, and sweetness as Reminder Phrases.
After one round Lea said, “I am like an elephant that grabs everything sweet with its trunk. I am like a vacuum cleaner.”
After a few rounds I handed her the piece of cake. Now it had a level of intensity of 6 out of 10. We kept tapping while she suddenly said, “Oh, I have a flashback of a memory when I was about three years old. My father used to buy me those sugar candies that looked like crystals.”
I kept tapping on her as she talked, astonished by the fact she had recalled a memory she had never remembered in fifty years. And then came another. She said, “I remember we used to go to the zoo, and my father always had these little bags filled with sweets. And now I remember how he used to feed me patiently this sweet porridge.”
She was absolutely a pleasure to work with, so freely cooperating with the process of EFT. I was very touched by this gush of memories and she was, too. I asked Lea if she missed her father and she said she missed him terribly. Bingo.
Even though I miss my father terribly…physically and emotionally I miss my father…I miss him so much. Even though I miss my sweet father, I miss our sweet relationship, I miss all those sweet memories, I accept my feelings and respect myself.
For Reminder Phrases, we used my sweet father… our sweet relationship…my sweet memories.
She said she understood that this craving for sugar was a substitute for her relationship with her father. I continually tapped on her as she suddenly said she could see herself as an adolescent, wearing a medallion of the peace symbol. “I want to make peace within me,” she said.
After tapping for that I gave her the piece of cake and she repelled it with her whole body. “I can’t even think of putting it in my mouth!” It was an amazing demonstration of getting to the core issue quickly. The whole thing took about twenty minutes. What a sweet process!
In the next report, Dorothy Goudie from New Zealand gives us a classic example of how EFT neutralized a craving for ice cream. Notice the specific language she and her client used to describe the craving. If you just try to describe your craving the way you would to a good friend, this is the kind of language you might use. These detailed descriptions in the Setup help trigger the intensity more completely, and they assist the tapping process in correcting the related disruptions.
A woman with a weight problem narrowed her cravings down to several items with one being overindulgence in ice cream—especially the ones coated in chocolate.
In New Zealand we have a chocolate-coated ice cream on a stick called a Topsy. This was her favorite. As we talked about the Topsy, she rated her craving at an intensity level of 10 out of 10. When I produced one and started to peel the wrapper off, she was salivating. By the time I put it in her hand and asked her just to smell it, her craving was way over a 10. We put the ice cream to one side, away from her but where she could see it. While tapping on her Karate Chop point, I started by saying, “I just love those Topsys.”
“Oh!” she exclaimed, “I can smell that beautiful sweet smell on your fingers.” At this point she took over with the words pouring out, so I just repeated back to her what she was saying and continuously tapped while she was doing this.
We did six or seven rounds of tapping on this and then took a pause while I asked how she was feeling now about ice cream. She had a blank look on her face, quite startled. It was almost as though it took a moment or two to realize that her previous thoughts were no longer so.
I suggested that she take another smell of the Topsy and give me a rating on the 0-to-10 scale. She took the ice cream and sniffed, and sniffed again, and with shock on her face said, “I can’t smell anything. It’s like plastic. My nose must be blocked. Did you switch the ice cream? You couldn’t have done that, I was watching. I don’t want to eat that. There is no pleasure in something that smells like plastic.” I suggested that she might like to take a bite of it and test it but she refused, saying that she couldn’t bear to eat something that smelled like that. An hour later, as she was ready to leave, we tested again with the same results. The intensity of her craving was still at a 0. She could not believe that her lifetime passion for ice cream could vanish in ten minutes.
I then asked her to take the Topsy and throw it in the rubbish. She took the ice cream in her hand and just stopped, shock showing in her face and body. She said, “I can’t throw this away, what a waste, you could wrap it and someone else could eat it. You can’t waste money on food like that and just throw it away.” Wow! Here we had another aspect. I walked her to the rubbish bin and said, “Now throw it in.” She did but was visibly shaken. Back we went to tapping again on this new aspect. We tapped on all of the above that she had said, plus much more came up and I just tapped as she spoke.
If food is in front of you then you must eat it all. You can’t have any waste. Clean your plate. Food costs money and you can’t waste it. You’ll be punished if you waste it. You’re being greedy if you take food and don’t eat it. After several minutes and many rounds and much emotion, she calmed down. Although I didn’t check her intensity initially, it was obviously 10 out of 10 and now it was down to 0. She went to the rubbish bin, looked at the ice cream, which was now melting, and said, “You’ll have a nice sticky mess in there.” No more emotion over waste.
She now has a tool to handle her addiction. I am in awe at the stunning simplicity of this EFT procedure.
A very important element of the above session is when Dorothy asked the client to throw the Topsy away. This produced a new aspect to address with EFT, and I call that “testing the results.” As I have mentioned before, when there are aspects of the issue left unaddressed, the issue will tend to come back. Whenever it seems as though the intensity is gone, find creative ways to verify that information and you will often find there is more to do.
Using EFT to address cravings directly is a great first step toward changing how you respond to food. In most cases, you can see immediate results and it is easy to see how EFT is helping you achieve your goals. However, even after EFT has been successful in eliminating one craving, or even a few cravings, any related emotional issues that have not been addressed can cause those cravings to come back in time.
For that reason, I encourage you to continue learning how to dig deeper and find the core issues behind your challenges with weight loss.