If you have an emotional eating problem or know someone who does, this is the most important article you will read all year.

I’ve written several blog posts explaining the cause and cure for emotional eating.  And my Kindle book describes in detail the Lefkoe Behavioral Deconditioning Process (LBDP), which deconditions the triggers that are the primary cause of emotional eating.  Nonetheless, I’ve received several emails complaining that I don’t actually provide the steps of the LBDP so that people can use it on their own.

bigstock-Mousetrap-With-Chocolate-111913In line with our mission to help create a world in which people are empowered to rid themselves of their self-imposed limitations and to create unimagined new possibilities for their lives, today I will provide the actual steps of the LBDP.  There are two versions: one to decondition triggers and one to decondition rewards.

To read more about how negative emotions get conditioned to act as triggers for emotional eating, see my earlier blog post The Cause and Cure for Emotional Eating.

And to see a list of common triggers, see my post Which Of These Eating ‘Triggers’ And ‘Rewards’ Make You Eat When Not Hungry?

Steps of Lefkoe Behavioral De-conditioning Process (Triggers)

1.  What is the behavior you want to stop? Write client’s answer: __________________.

2.  What is the trigger? Write client’s answer: __________________.  [Ask client about the list of 20+ eating triggers.]

3.  Imagine a situation in which __________________  [state the trigger #2] usually occurs. … Can you imagine yourself easily not _________________  [state the behavior #1], without using a lot of will power? [The answer will be, no.]

4.  What value do you get from _____________________ [state the behavior #1-2)]?  [Example, a pleasurable distraction, numbness or comfort, or in order to experience celebration, calmness, or a feeling of pleasure.]  (You will have to change the exact wording of the “value” for different steps of the Process.)  Write client’s answer: ________________________

5.  Can you see that you never really wanted ___________________ [state the behavior #1], you wanted … [state the value #4]?  [The answer should be, yes.]  In other words, _________________[state the behavior #1] was only a means to an end, not an end in itself.

6.  Can you see that the only reason _________________ [state the behavior-trigger #1-2] has been desirable is that it has been giving you ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­__________________________________ [state the value #4]? [The answer should be, yes.] That if you had been able to get _____________________ [state the value #4] in other ways, you wouldn’t have _______________________[state the behavior #1]? [The answer should be, yes.]

7. Can you see that ____________________________ [state the behavior #1] never really gave you want you wanted.  It may have allowed you to feel ___________________________ [state the value #4] for the moment; it didn’t really work in the long run?  [The answer should be, yes.]

8.  Imagine a situation where you have been exhibiting this behavior.  … Doesn’t it seem that you can see that _______________________ [state the behavior #1] is the best way to get ___________________ [state the value #4] when ____________________  [state the trigger #2]?   [The answer should be, yes.]  Keep looking. Can you really see that __________________[state the behavior #1] is the best way to get ___________________ [state the value #4]?  [The answer should be, no.] What do you actually see?  [Let client answer.] Is it real that you can only see that eating seemed to work for the moment; you not only can’t see that eating is the best way to get _______________________(state the value #4), you can’t see that it is the only way or even a good way?

9. Imagine something else you could have done earlier in your life instead of eating to produce the _________________________ [state the value #4]?  What is it?  ______________________?   If you had done that repeatedly whenever _________________ [state the trigger #2] was present, is it real that you would have made an association between that and _________________ [state the trigger #2]?

10.  So can you get that there is no inherent connection between ________________ [state the behavior #1] and _________________ [state the trigger #2] and that the only connection is an arbitrary one you created earlier in life and you just as easily could have created a different association?

11. Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. … Imagine a new situation in which _______________[state the trigger #2] is present. … Can you imagine yourself easily not _________________________ [state the behavior #1] now without using will power? [The answer should be, yes.]  It feels different from the first time I asked, doesn’t it? [The answer should be, yes.]

12.  Help them to realize that eating is no longer a conditioned response to the triggers, but the triggers will still exist.  The easiest and simplest way to deal with them is to find other things that help the client cope with or get distracted from the triggers.  The things the client named in #9 are possibilities.

(copyright © 1997-2013 Morty Lefkoe )

Steps of Lefkoe Behavioral De-conditioning Process (Rewards)

NOTE: This is for use with “rewards” only.  The LBDP has more steps when used with “triggers.”

1.  What is the behavior you want to stop? Write client’s answer: __________________.

2.  What is the reward? Write client’s answer: __________________.  [Ask client about each item on the list of 5 eating rewards.]

3. Imagine a situation in which __________________  [state the reward #2] usually occurs. … Can you imagine yourself easily not _________________  [state the behavior #1], without using a lot of will power? [The answer will be, no.]

4.  Can you see that you never really wanted ___________________ [state the behavior #1], you wanted … [state the reward #2]?  [The answer should be, yes.]  In other words, _________________[state the behavior #1] was only a means to an end, not an end in itself.

5.  Can you see that the only reason _________________ [state the behavior #1] has been desirable is that it has been giving you ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­__________________________________ [state the reward #2]? [The answer should be, yes.] That if you had been able to get _____________________ [state the reward#2] in other ways, there would have been no need to _______________________[state the behavior #1]? [The answer should be, yes.]

6.  Can you see that ____________________ [state the behavior #1] might have been one way to get what you wanted, but that it wasn’t necessarily the only way?  [The answer should be, yes.]

7.  Imagine a situation where you have been exhibiting this behavior.  … Doesn’t it seem that you can see that _______________________ [state the behavior #1] is the best way to get ___________________ [state the reward #2] [The answer should be, yes.]  Keep looking. Can you really see that __________________[state the behavior #1] is the best way to get ___________________ [state the reward #2]?  [The answer should be, no.] What do you actually see?  [Let client answer.] Is it real that you can only see that eating seemed to work for the moment; you not only can’t see that eating is the best way to get _______________________(state the value #4), you can’t see that it is the only way or even a good way?

8. Imagine something else you could have done earlier in your life instead of eating to produce the _________________________ [state the reward #2]?  What is it?  ______________________?   If you had done that repeatedly whenever you desired _________________ [state the reward #2], is it real that you would have made an association between that and _________________ [state the reward #2]?

9. So can you get that there is no inherent connection between ________________ [state the behavior #1] and _________________ [state the reward #2] and that the only connection is an arbitrary one you created earlier in life and you just as easily could have created a different association?

10. Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. … Imagine a new situation in which you want _______________[state the reward #2]. … Can you imagine yourself easily not _________________________ [state the behavior #1] now without using will power? [The answer should be, yes.]  It feels different from the first time I asked, doesn’t it? [The answer should be, yes.]

The best single summary of my thoughts on the source of emotional eating and how to cure it is in my Kindle book on Amazon, The Secret to Ending Emotional Eating For Good.

(copyright © 1997-2013 Morty Lefkoe )

 

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Copyright © 2013 Morty Lefkoe