What Happens When You Tap on Cravings

What Happens When You Tap on Cravings
Claudette Pelletier-Hannah

In every workshop I’ve ever done that addresses food cravings I see the same thing happen time and time again. As soon as I ask participants to bring out the food of their desire giggles permeate the room.

At the end of the exercise people often throw their craved food in the garbage.

I suspect the giggles are part excitement and part solidarity. They suspect I am giving them permission to eat something delicious (and I eventually do). And they giggle because they feel immediate solidarity with the other participants. Their shared secret is exposed. “I see you and get you. You see me and get me.”

That’s the short story.

But here’s another story. Let me tell you about Dr. Peta Stapleton. She is a Clinical & Health Psychologist and Associate Professor of Psychology at Bond University in Queensland, Australia. Her research focuses on new therapies in the area of obesity and weight management.

Why Dr. Stapleton is really interesting is because she led the world’s first trial examining neural changes after Emotional Freedom Techniques (Tapping) for food cravings – an fMRI study (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging).

As you’ve heard me say before, EFT is a stress-reduction technique that involves the pairing of a cognitive statement with the tapping of acupressure points; it’s part Western psychology, part Eastern medicine. EFT works to address all kinds of challenges and it often works remarkably fast.

Back to the study
The treatment group was offered EFT for two hours per week, for a 4-week period by a skilled practitioner using standardized protocols.

During the fMRI scanning the participants were presented with images of high-calorie foods designed to engage parts of the brain that respond to food stimuli. They were asked to imagine tasting and eating each food as they observed the images.

In all the pre-scans there was relative activation in the area of the brain associated with cognition, as well as the area of the brain associated with reward. The post scans were relatively deactivated in both areas, whereas post scanning of a control group who did not receive the EFT treatment showed continued activation in these areas.

EFT also facilitated structural changes in the brain. Change in gene expression, hormone production, brain waves, and blood flow were all noted. Degree of food craving, individual’s perceived power of food, restraint capabilities and psychological symptoms (anxiety and depression) were also significantly improved.

Weight loss at the 12 months follow-up was significant, as was the decrease in BMI. The study is ongoing.

I’m sharing this for those of you who like science and data who have maybe wondered about this weird modality. Here’s the whole study.

For those of you who would like to be rid of food cravings and emotional eating (without brain scans) here’s an offering. It starts Tuesday.

I know there’s probably a part of you that doesn’t want to let go of your favorite comfort foods. No worries. Resistance is built right into EFT.