By naturopath Robyn Chuter
As discussed in my article How to make an ‘obese brain’; just add saturated fat, researchers believe that a diet high in saturated fat may cause permanent changes in the brain, driving cravings for high-kilojoule foods that sabotage the efforts of overweight people to lose weight and keep it off for good.
That’s a depressing thought, but given the burgeoning research into neuroplasticity, or the ability of the brain to change its structure and function depending on what we habitually think and feel, and what tasks we assign it, we may have cause for optimism after all.
My own experience in working with people who’ve battled with their weight over many years, suggests that cravings for unhealthy foods can definitely be abolished, and a preference for health-promoting foods firmly established, by using Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).
You can learn the basic EFT (‘tapping’) routine in this video.
How I use EFT to aid weight loss
1) Tap on cravings for unhealthy foods. When doing cravings tapping, I encourage clients to really get into the nitty gritty about the foods they desire: their appearance, smell, taste, texture and mouthfeel; how they feel when they contemplate eating that food; and how they would feel if they were prevented from eating that food (murderous impulses surface at times, at this point :)).
2) Tap on memories associated with the unhealthy food you crave. I often find that the foods people crave, were given to them when they were children by adults with whom they had a special, loving connection. No wonder they crave those foods when they are feeling down now – the memory of receiving love, affection and approval from their favourite uncle, granny or babysitter is strongly associated with the memory of the chocolates, cakes or sweets that loved one gave them!
3) Tap on negative associations with dieting, food deprivation and poor body image. I have lost count of the number of female clients I’ve seen, who were ‘put on a diet’ when they were pre-teen or even younger, by well-meaning but somewhat insensitive parents!
The shame, isolation, self-judgment and sense of deprivation felt by a child whose access to food is restricted in this way, is truly devastating. It often triggers an urge to rebel which results in a pattern of self-sabotage that persists into adult life.
Many of my female clients also report witnessing their mothers criticising their own bodies, and following extreme weight loss diets. These negative experiences leave a deep imprint on impressionable young brains, which fortunately is highly correctable with EFT.
4) Tap on aversions to healthy food. Dislike of health-promoting foods often has its roots in early-life experiences – and these too are amenable to tapping. Many of my clients have memories of being forced to eat everything on their plate even when they were full, or were repulsed by the food.
Others recall being made to eat their Brussels sprouts, while another family member (usually Dad) left them on his plate and still got ice cream for dessert! A rankling sense of injustice and the desire to rebel often lingers after experiences like these, creating a deep psychological aversion to eating healthy foods such as vegetables and salads.
5) Create a vision of your future self and tap on your resistance to realising that vision. A funny thing often happens when you imagine your future self – healthy, vibrant, at your ideal weight, finding it easy to consistently make good choices with food, not even tempted to eat junk – along with the excitement about achieving your goal, often comes some trepidation.
In EFT circles, we call these ‘yes-buts’:
‘Yes, I could lose weight, but then my overweight friends might get jealous and reject me.’
‘Yes, I’d love to choose healthy foods, but might I not feel deprived if I give up my ice cream?’
‘Yes, I’d love to get into exercise, slim down and tone up, but how will I handle it if I start getting more attention from the opposite sex?’
These ‘yes-buts’ are highly tappable issues, and once we collapse them with EFT, weight loss often proceeds at a truly startling rate.