Using the Emotional Freedom Technique to support weight loss and healthy eating

I don’t believe there are many of us who haven’t at some time in our lives considered our weight or thought about our diet and attempted to make changes. But if you’re not one of us then keep reading anyway because you can apply these steps and strategies to other behaviours in your life.

My focus in this article is on how we can use EFT to identify the emotional triggers or drivers that sabotage our good intentions and ultimately keep us overweight, unhealthy and often unhappy.

We don’t need food to make us feel better when the day has been hard or someone has been mean or to manage loss, but so often we use it that way. EFT can help you break free from that relationship.


Once you start removing that emotional link you may start to lose weight without dieting because you’re not triggered to eat food by anything other than hunger. I have worked with clients who have forgotten what it feels like to be hungry because they have been constantly snacking. You may also rediscover the difference between feeling hungry and thirsty.


Say the name of your favourite food and see if you get that Homer Simpson ‘donut’ moment. Notice what happens immediately before the craving started. Spend a few days noticing how you think of food and how and when you eat, write it down and see if a pattern forms. What’s your emotional response?

I worked with a client recently who wanted to stop drinking large amounts of diet soda but found it impossible to stop. We tapped on the craving. Once the craving was reduced we focused on the stories and emotions that surfaced. She could remember being bought soda as a special Friday night treat by her dad, she remembered the excitement she felt and the distinctive sound when she opened the bottle. Drinking the soda had become part of a ritual that made her feel good and gave her a small amount of time out from her busy life. Once her emotional response was reduced she began to imagine ways she could substitute water for soda. She began to buy bottled water in fancy bottles. Then she moved on to refilling the bottles with filtered tap water.


What’s the story you tell yourself? Try saying the sentences below and write down the first thought that comes to you. There may be many stories and events that have led to these beliefs.

I can’t lose weight or be thin because…

I want to lose weight but…..


Stress means different things to everyone but we all release adrenalin and cortisol in response to stressful situations. These hormones are brilliant at telling our bodies to hold on to fat stores. One of the most powerful aspects of Tapping is that it works so quickly in reducing stress levels and it integrates perfectly with other forms of stress management.


Any new behaviour takes practice. Our western psychology has told us it takes 21 days to change a habit but a recent study by University College London found nothing to support this. Participants took variable amounts of time from between 4 days to over a year to establish a new habit. Their research concluded that habits are responses to needs. This sounds obvious, but countless efforts at habit change ignore its implications. If you eat badly, you might resolve to start eating well, but if you’re eating burgers and ice-cream to feel comforted, relaxed and happy, trying to replace them with broccoli and carrot juice isn’t going to work. What’s required isn’t a better diet, but an alternative way to feel comforted and relaxed.


What’s driving your desire to lose weight? Take some time to write down 5 reasons why you want to lose weight or change your eating habits.

Changing any behaviour requires work and motivation. How you are motivated is very important.

Intrinsic motivation – This comes from inside us and its the sort of motivation that’s more likely to keep us sticking to a new behaviour. You’re wearing new shoes and you decide to walk around a puddle because you don’t want to spoil your new shoes.

Extrinsic motivation – This comes from the things people say to us or circumstances. You’re five years old wearing new shoes and you really want to walk through the puddle and your mum says don’t walk in that puddle.

A useful exercise to identify your motivation is to write down 5 positive reasons for this change. This can be harder than it seems. ‘I wont feel embarrassed at the swimming pool’ isn’t a positive, ‘I will feel confident in my togs’ is. Then list 5 negative reasons for this change such as ‘I will have to give up my favourite food’.


Be prepared for some resistance, sadness or anger to surface. You might be reminded of hurtful things. Consider working with a practitioner because there are a number of techniques that can be used to keep the emotional intensity and distress low as you work through your memories and stories. Change shouldn’t be painful!

“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken,” Dr Johnson observed gloomily, but maybe by looking at the problem differently we can still, Houdini-like, slip out of them.


Diana Rickman OfficialEFT3.v3Diana is a registered EFT practitioner and is available for individual coaching, group sessions and talks.

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