Ever have a food craving that stops you dead in your tracks? What do you do? White knuckle your way through and try to wait it out? Give in or is there another alternative? No need to white knuckle through a craving anymore because you can use tapping.
Thank Heavens for tapping! Tapping also known as EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) is a scientifically proven stress-relief technique that works like magic to resolve issues like trauma, anxiety, stress, phobias, emotional disorders, weight control, cravings, negative emotions, fear, doubts, traumatic memories and chronic pain. And this is just a short list of some of the ways people use tapping.
Basically tapping (EFT or Emotional Freedom Techniques) works by gently tapping on different parts of your face and hands. The origins of tapping are drawn from ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology. The science proving that EFT works demonstrates that tapping activates a chemical change in your brain which shifts your thoughts and feelings putting you back in balance, feeling good again.
I’m sure you’d agree with me that many times food cravings seem to come out of thin air. You could be happily sitting at your desk working on finishing up some writing or work, and all of a sudden you’re overcome by thoughts of getting something to eat. And the more you try to resist the thought, the more intensely you feel the craving.
When you’re wrestling with a food craving, you just want to get the food and eat it. Nothing else matters. All reason and logic goes out the window. and all your energy and thoughts go to hunting down the food you want and getting it in your mouth …Now.
Although the scenario of you sitting, working at your desk being overcome by a craving for chocolate or any other food, may not make a lot of sense, to your body, it makes complete sense. Here’s why:
Your Cravings Are Unmet Emotional Needs
We have feelings about everything we do and say. Your feelings, also known as emotions are actually broken down in your body as chemicals. These chemical storms are always coursing through your body.
When you experience an emotion, and it doesn’t get expressed, it leaves you caught up in a loop of feeling that same emotion, over and over again.
If it’s anger that you didn’t get a chance to express, then your thoughts will consistently turn towards finding reasons why you should be angry. If you have an unexpressed sadness, or are grieving a loss, the same will happen with finding yourself feeling that emptiness and sadness repeatedly. All your senses will come into play and you will be reminded in vivid detail of the sense of loss or any other emotion you feel.
Since the brain can’t tell the difference between imagination and reality, if you worry or anticipate something to happen, such as a son or daughter leaving for college, your brain reacts as though it is actually happening. That will kick off your body’s stress response and you will feel a sense of panic and urgency.
And if you’re an emotional eater, your brain is already hard-wired to seek out food for comfort whenever you feel the presence of stress.
In order to take back your power from food and not give into your every food craving, you have to deal with the uncomfortable emotions in your life. There really is no way to hide from them.
Cravings have nothing to do with your sense of will power or determination. It’s really just a chemical storm in your brain that has reached a saturation point and it needs to be addressed.
Whenever you get hit with a craving, it’s your body’s way of saying, “Hey, we need to look at how you’re feeling and what’s going on here.”
Why You’re Probably Craving Carbs
Many times you’ll find yourself craving carbs and I’m not talking ’bout oatmeal. You’ll want to eat cookies, cake, potato chips, and candy. Have you ever noticed that eating these foods puts you in a happy place? There’s a scientific reason for that. Foods rich in carbohydrates elevate a production of serotonin, dopamine and other feel good chemicals in your brain that when released in the body they bring you a sense of calm, peace and happiness. That’s the sugar high that will make you feel so good for a minute, but then once your insulin levels plummet, you’ll be exhausted and feel like taking a nap.
Food has a very powerful effect on our bodies. And now more than ever food companies have gotten very savvy in their food production and marketing approaches. Food companies actually now add certain chemicals to their products to make them addictive.
So when you get hit with a craving, there’s a lot that’s going on behind-the-scenes.
Binge Eating is Your Body’s Way of Crying Out for Help
In her book, “Binge Eating: How to Stop It Forever, author Gloria Arenson, says, Binge eating is not so much a problem as it is a statement about unresolved issues in a person’s life. She urges compulsive eaters to stop trying to use will power to control food intake and instead learn to recognize the inner stresses that bring on binges. If we deal with them, the urge to eat compulsively takes care of itself.”
Overeating from a Gentle Perspective
As a coach and sexual abuse survivor, I’ve spent a lot of years learning and working on my own healing. My biggest discovery has been the importance of treating myself with kindness and compassion. Unlike years ago, I no longer find any benefit in beating up on myself labeling overeating as my weakness or thinking of my binge events as a loss of anything. Now I know that when I overeat, it’s my body’s way of telling me that I need something that’s missing. Two things I know right off the bat are we tend to crave sugar and treats when we haven’t had enough sleep and when our thoughts are filled with anxiety.
Struggling with Cravings?
Maybe you’re also struggling with cravings and you find yourself unable to stop thinking about the food or wanting to eat it. I specialize my coaching in working with women after abuse because as a survivor myself, I understand the complexities and the challenges inherent in our tangled relationship with food and our bodies. I’ve learned that If you want to change the way you respond to food, you have to break your old patterns. The first step is becoming aware of your cravings. It can be so overwhelming when your every thought is about food and wanting to eat it. As I tell my clients, it’s not failure. It’s feedback. In my Losing Weight without Dieting Program, I teach women struggling with food obsession how to stop bingeing so they can gain the confidence to pursue their dreams. My program does not promise a quick fix and you won’t lose 100 pounds in a weekend. The process of ending your food obsession will take time.
The first step of my program, “Losing Weight without Dieting” is to encourage the women to feel safe again around food; M&Ms, pasta, sandwiches, it’s all equal. It’s just food. As dieters we’ve learned to think in terms of absolutes, good or bad, healthy vs. unhealthy, etc. We label celery as good, and eating cake as bad. But that only sets up for failure because we’ll ultimately binge on the cake if we think we can’t eat it.
Back in 2013 I used to have an active radio show on Blogtalkradio called, “Lovin’ the Skin You’re In.” One day I was working on editing an audio of the previous night’s episode. Immediate after listening to it, I got hit with a craving for one of my favorite candies.
You probably know them. They’re those bite-sized milk chocolate covered caramel bits called Milk Duds® The craving knocked me right off my feet. In a flash, I remembered that I just bought a box of Duds the day before and they were on a shelf in my kitchen cabinet.
Why Having My Favorite Foods Around is So Important to Me
Now let me be clear. I haven’t dieted since August of 2006 when I made the decision to stop dieting. And I don’t count calories. Back in 2013 I lost 28 pounds by using tapping. I was having chest pains and I knew that I had to lose weight. And I did, thanks to tapping.
The thing about tapping is that it works when you work it. It’s like cleaning your house or taking a shower, you can’t just expect to do it once and be done with it. You’ve got to maintain and be consistent to get sustained progress.
In 2016 when both my kids left for college and my cat passed away, I went into depression. Eating mountains of ice cream and giving up on my workouts, caused me to regain all of the 28 pounds in just a couple months. The bottom line is I know tapping works. It’s created miracles in my life and my clients and it can create miracles for you too.
My eating habits have changed radically since last year. As of St. Paddy’s Day of 2018, I’ve gone completely meatless and become a vegetarian. After hearing about how animals in the food industry are mistreated, I made a decision that I wanted to become a vegan. I know this is going to take some time, but protecting the lives of animals is very important to me.
Although I’m eating more healthfully every day, there are still plenty of fattening foods in my home. I live very peacefully and happily surrounded by the foods I love. But now they’re no longer littering the counter or ‘in my face.’ I have the comfort of knowing that they are nearby, but just far enough that it requires some thought to decide to go eat them.
I learned this strategy from my friend and nutritionist, Susan L. Holmberg. It’s called a pattern interrupt. Her big crave is peanut butter. She’s told me that back in the day she would easily eat an entire jar of peanut butter. One day she decided to move her peanut butter to a place where she had to work to get it. She decided to put it up in her attic. That required her to go get a ladder and then climb into the attic where she would find her peanut butter.
There’s just something about having the food in your home, knowing it’s there that gives you a huge sense of comfort so you won’t be driven to overeat because you feel deprived.
When your crave food is around and it’s plentiful, at some point after you prove to yourself that you can eat it anytime, you won’t want it anymore. It will become a passing fancy that you can easily forget about, especially if you keep a steady stream of good quality food options available when you have those grab and go moments. Can you relate to those times when you’re starving and exhausted and haven’t eaten for hours?
If the only thing you see in front of you is a box of candy or a cake, your body’s hunger combined with your sense of deprivation will lead you straight to overeating that food.
That’s why I keep my goodies like Milk Duds either out of sight in my kitchen pantry or in a freezer that’s in a room downstairs. You would be surprised how unappealing it can be to have to walk a distance or do any work to get to the food you are craving.
Before you know it, you’ve forgotten all about the food and when you taste it, it’s stale and you end up throwing it away. Sure that’s technically wasteful, but how fabulous does that feel to have the sense of pride that you are in control of the food and the food doesn’t control you.
But on occasion I fall back into my old habits of using food for comfort and my tendency to overeat pops back up.
EFT: Your Emotional Freedom Is Literally At Your Fingertips
Back in 2004 I had a life-changingly amazingly positive experience with EFT, also known as tapping or Emotional Freedom Technique. In that moment I was in the midst of experiencing a panic attack that was triggered by paralyzing memories from my sexually abusive past. Within 10 minutes after tapping I was calm, cool, and collected.
I was so stunned that the formerly paralyzing memory of abuse had no effect on me. For the first time ever I was able to confront that memory without fear or shame. I was 42 at the time and had lived with that paralyzing memory for 32 years. For over 3 decades I had felt helpless and lost, victimized and deeply ashamed of this and so many other horrible memories. And in just a few minutes, tapping did for me what 16 years of traditional talk therapy failed to do. I was at peace. I didn’t feel the need to have my therapist’s number on speed dial or rush downtown to have an emergency session. I had the power of healing at my fingertips and I was going to teach other women how to tap into it for themselves. I began hiring coaches to teach me how to use tapping.
I knew I had to share this powerful stress-relief technique with other women. At the time I was struggling to maintain a 50 pound weight loss that had taken me decades to achieve with the help of Weight Watchers. I learned how to use EFT for weight loss by following the work of Carol Look, Ph.D. Carol is one of the foremost authorities on EFT. I purchased her CD set called EFT and Weight Loss and went to work listening, learning and exploring the program.
As I continue to do now, every time I learn something new, I share it with clients and my workshop participants. At that time I was fascinated by how to apply the tapping to manage cravings. Whenever I would do presentations for groups, I always brought a bag of chocolate and chips and gave each of the participants their choice of whatever food they typically craved. Then I lead the group through the process showing them how to use EFT to deal with their cravings. In one video, one of my participants was so excited to get a piece of chocolate that she just popped it into her mouth and never got to hear the instructions for the exercise I had planned. We all laughed and it was a lot of fun. But I’ve since stopped dieting and found a much greater sense of peace with food. Using Carol Look’s EFT for Weight Loss as my inspiration and combining that with Dr. Nancy Bonios’ Beyond Dieting Program, I created my program, “Losing Weight without Dieting.”
You can use EFT (the stress relief technique that I demonstrate in the audio at the end of this post) to overcome your cravings. I rarely do it, for myself, but whenever I do presentations for groups, I always bring lots of chocolate and chips and I lead them through the process showing them how to use EFT to deal with their cravings. It’s an absolute scream seeing them shaking their heads in wonderment completely confounded as to why they don’t feel the urge to eat the chocolate anymore.
In the audio that you can listen to below, I decided on the fly to start tapping as soon as my craving for Milk Duds hit out of the blue.
To give you an image: When I started the tapping I was actually running down the stairs from my office in the house to the kitchen. After I pulled the Milk Duds from where they were sitting on the shelf in my pantry, I sat down at my kitchen table and I was bent on eating the entire box. By the end of the audio you’ll hear me going through a variety of realizations, and emotions and yawning several times. That is energy moving through my body. After about 5 minutes of tapping on the side of my hand, I no longer wanted to eat the Milk Duds. Click the link below if you want to listen to my recording: