Excited random walks represent a convenient model to study food intake in a media which is progressively depleted by the walker. Trajectories in the model alternate between (i) feeding and (ii) escape (when food is missed and so it must be found again) periods, each governed by different movement rules. Here, we explore the case where the escape dynamics is adaptive, so at short times an area-restricted search is carried out, and a switch to extensive or ballistic motion occurs later if necessary. We derive for this case explicit analytical expressions of the mean escape time and the asymptotic growth of the depleted region in one dimension. These, together with numerical results in two dimensions, provide surprising evidence that ballistic searches are detrimental in such scenarios, a result which could explain why ballistic movement is barely observed in animal searches at microscopic and millimetric scales, therefore providing significant implications for biological foraging.