How To Lose Weight Without Dieting or Pills

Between our obsession with our looks and the national crisis involving obesity, losing weight is constantly on the minds of tens of millions of people.
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Between our obsession with our looks and the national crisis involving obesity, losing weight is constantly on the minds of tens of millions of people.

Diets and pills ultimately don't work for most people because they don't eliminate the true cause of emotional eating.

Diets fail because you have to force yourself to eat something different and eat less than you normally would, which require a lot of willpower. And the will, like any muscle, tires with overuse. Eventually, the compulsive "need" to eat wins out and you're back to square one again.

And even though pills can affect your appetite or change how you process food internally, they cannot stop the compulsion to eat more than you are hungry for.

The real source of overeating and overweight

None of the "solutions" to overeating deal with the source of the problem, namely, eating that has been conditioned to occur whenever any of the "triggers" are present. Because these triggers are negative feelings people want to "escape from," such as depression, anxiety, guilt, loneliness, unloved, and rejected -- we can describe this conditioned eating as "emotional eating."

Although there are many causes of people becoming overweight, in my experience, the single most important one is emotional eating, in other words, eating for emotional reasons when you aren't really hungry.

If you really want to lose weight -- and if you are an emotional eater -- the single best thing you can do is to eat only when you are hungry and stop eating when you get full. To do that, you have to de-condition the triggers that lead you to eat compulsively. (Beliefs can also contribute to the problem for some people.)

So how do you do that?

How to de-condition eating triggers

Here's how I used the Lefkoe De-conditioning Process (LDP) to help one client de-condition anxiety so that it no longer automatically caused her to eat.

I had her imagine a situation in which she felt anxious or upset and then asked her if in this type of situation she could imagine easily not eating without using a lot of willpower. She said she couldn't imagine not eating. I ask this question to make sure that this is a real trigger and also to provide a benchmark experience, because I ask her the same question at the end of the LDP, so she can experience no desire to eat in a similar situation after the de-conditioning process is complete and notice the change in her experience.

Next I asked her: What value do you get from eating when you are anxious or upset? She answered: I experience pleasure and I am distracted from my anxiety.

I got her to make a crucial distinction: She realized she never really wanted to eat, she wanted a pleasurable distraction from her anxiety. Eating was only a means to the end, not an end in itself.

I then helped her reach two other important realizations:

1. The only reason eating had been desirable was that it produced a pleasurable distraction that nothing else had provided at the time.

2. If she had found other ways to get a pleasurable distraction before the conditioning first started, she wouldn't have needed to eat.

I then helped her realize that, while eating might have been one way to get what she wanted, it wasn't necessarily the best way.

Next I showed her that eating when she was experiencing anxiety never really gave her what she wanted. In other words, she had a momentary pleasurable distraction from her upset or anxiety, but they didn't go away for good. As soon as she finished eating, they were still there.

I then asked her to imagine a situation when she had eaten in response to experiencing anxiety. She took a moment to do this.

Then I asked: Didn't it seem as if you could see that eating is the best way to get pleasurable distraction? In other words, didn't you discover that it was "the truth" as a result of seeing it in the world?

She told me she could really see that.

You can't really see it

When I asked her to look closer, to describe what "eating is the best way to get pleasurable distraction" looked like, she realized she couldn't really see that. It was only a conclusion she had reached in her mind and wasn't necessarily true. All she could actually see was herself eating when she was anxious and then feeling a little better for the moment.

Finally she realized that the connection between eating and anxiety had been an accidental connection made in her childhood, and that there was no inherent connection between the two.

If her mom had taken her to a movie or played a game with her whenever she had been upset or anxious, then that behavior would have gotten conditioned and now she would go to a movie or play a game whenever she experienced anxiety instead of eating.

At this point the "trigger" -- namely, anxiety -- had been de-conditioned and would no longer result in her eating compulsively. (I know that might be hard to believe, but it has happened time after time with clients and the compulsive emotional eating still had not returned years later.)

Please leave your comments and questions here about today's post. I read all posts and answer as many as I can.

For more details on how to lose weight without dieting and pills by de-conditioning your triggers and eliminating your beliefs, please see my eBook, The Secret To Ending Overeating For Good, which can be found at

Morty Lefkoe is the creator of The Lefkoe Method, a system for permanently eliminating limiting beliefs and de-conditioning the stimuli that cause negative feelings and behaviors. For more information go to

copyright ©2012 Morty Lefkoe

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