Joanne was 52 when she called me to help her with her weight problem.  She said she needed to lose 80-90 pounds, but her real complaint was, “I need to eat all the time.  I know I’m full and I keep eating anyway.”

As I questioned her she revealed that it was easier for her to eat and be fat than to have to explain to herself why men didn’t love her.  “Men are not interested in fat women, so if I’m fat a lack of interest from men won’t mean anything about ME.”  She said she used food to celebrate and also to show love for herself when she didn’t get it from others.  Her sense of self was very poor and she had most of the typical negative self-esteem beliefs.

She had been on many diets, all of which had worked for a short time, but none had lasted for long.  She hated being fat but couldn’t stop eating.

In short, her story sounded just like that of tens of millions of other women (and many men).

The problem is immense and getting worse

Because at least one third of our adult population is obese and another third is overweight, overeating and excess weight are is one of the biggest problems facing our society.

The total economic cost of these excessive pounds is estimated to be $270 billion annually in the U.S.  alone.  Moreover, Marketdata Enterprises, a market research firm that has tracked the weight-loss products and services market since 1989, estimates that the total U.S. weight loss market was $60.9 billion in 2010.

But the dollars spent is only part of the story.  People with an emotional eating problem have their lives run by the constant need to eat.  No matter how hard they try to fight the urge, in the long run they always lose, which usually results in guilt.  Most people who are overweight are dissatisfied with their weight and beat themselves up for not being able to lose the weight.

It would not be an overstatement to say that one of the major sources of unhappiness in developed countries today is emotional eating and excessive weight.

Because these two closely-related problems can be overcome and because I haven’t written about this topic for over a year and a half (, I decided that it was time to revisit the topic.

The sources of overeating

There are several different sources of overweight, including:

  • Insufficient or no physical exercise
  • Eating unhealthy food, especially fast foods with high carbohydrate content
  • Medical problems, such as thyroid dysfunction
  • Emotional eating

There is a plethora of useful information about the first three.  There is very little information that is truly useful about the fourth.  Unfortunately, most of the programs and therapies don’t produce lasting results, which have led to millions of frustrated emotional eaters.  In fact, however, emotional eating can be stopped … forever.

Two types of emotional eating

Based on many years of working with clients I am convinced that almost all overeating is at least partially the result of emotional eating, in other words, most overeating is due to emotional reasonsSuch overeating is of two types:

  • Eating to cover up negative feelings, such as loneliness, anxiety, feeling unloved, and boredom, and
  • Eating to reward oneself, such as eating to celebrate or to give oneself pleasure.

Emotional eating is caused primarily by operant conditioning.  When we had negative feelings earlier in our lives and then ate, there was a positive payoff, such as a pleasurable distraction from the negative feeling.  After experiencing that payoff on many occasions, the negative feelings (such as boredom and anxiety) became a “trigger” that got conditioned to produce a compulsive desire to eat.

The same principle is applicable regarding rewards.  When we wanted to celebrate or experience pleasure and then we experienced what we wanted after eating, wanting to celebrate or to experience pleasure got conditioned to produce a compulsive desire to eat.

This operant conditioning always seems to be present when someone overeats on a regular basis.

Beliefs also play a role

Beliefs also are usually present in the case of emotional eating.  Some typical beliefs include:

  • focusing on eating/weight is the best way to avoid engaging fully in life,
  • the way to be accepted by others is to be imperfect and for me that’s being heavy,
  • eating is the best way to get pleasure,
  • if I can’t eat what I want when I want it I’m deprived and powerless,
  • the best way to avoid sex is to be heavy,
  • the best way to feel better when I don’t feel good is to eat,
  • the best way to celebrate is to eat,
  • eating is the best way to suppress feelings,
  • if I don’t eat the food right now there won’t be any later.

There really is a solution

The Lefkoe De-conditioning Process can easily de-condition both the “rewards” and the negative feelings that act as “eating triggers.”  The Lefkoe Belief Process can easily eliminate any beliefs that cause emotional eating.

I’ve written an eBook that describes in detail the true causes of overeating and explains how using the two processes I just mentioned make possible an effective solution.  The eBook is free and is available at

If you or a friend or a loved one have an eating/food/weight problem, please take a look at the free eBook and at the same time sign up to get my weekly blog.  The blog includes posts from me and interviews with noted experts in the field.  I’ve posted five interviews (both audio and transcripts) in the past few weeks.  You can see all the existing posts and sign up to receive future ones at

When I discuss the problems we face in life, I often mention that The Lefkoe Method is a useful tool to get rid of those problems.  There may be other solutions.  What’s important is not which tool you use, but that you realize that solutions do exist … and that you then utilize them to get rid of your eating/weight problems or any others you might have.  Most of the problems so many of us face daily are not due to human nature and they are not inevitable. 

Find your own solution and then use it.

P.S.  My client Joanne who I described at the start of this post has lost two dress sizes during the past four months … without dieting.

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If you would like information about having a Certified Lefkoe Method Facilitator help you permanently eliminate an emotional eating problem or any other problem in your life, please call us at (415) 506-4472.

If you haven’t yet eliminated at least one of your limiting self-esteem beliefs using the Lefkoe Belief Process, go to where you can eliminate one negative belief free.

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copyright ©2012 Morty Lefkoe