As a woman that is passionate about the psycho-spiritual side of eating behavior, I am of course fascinated by the metaphysical causes and spiritual root of weight gain and weight loss. What causes us to cling to weight, and what switch “flips” when we suddenly lose weight? Let’s explore!
The word metaphysical in itself is a sign that you’ve already veered from the well-trodden path of dieting for weight loss, and I think that’s a good thing! After all, if you’re like me and you’ve spent decades of your life trying to figure out the weight gain- and food-struggle, then maybe the answers can’t be found on the well-trodden path! Maybe there’s actually something to all this woo-woo spiritual stuff.
The book that started it all was You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. That amazing powerhouse of a woman practically invented affirmations (as far as I’m concerned) and through decades of experience, she nailed down (what she believes are) the metaphysical causes, or spiritual “roots,” of physical ailments including the struggle with weight gain and overeating.
The #1 Spiritual Root of Weight Gain
As a full disclaimer, the word metaphysics refers to “abstract theory with no basis in reality.” Just so we’re clear, everything I’m about to share is rooted in the opposite of hard science – woo hoo! I think you’ll agree with me when I say that all of it intuitively feels SO TRUE.
Let’s start with the biggest spiritual root of weight gain: a need for protection. Doesn’t that feel incredibly true? Almost in a too-vulnerable type of way, where you feel oddly exposed? Wouldn’t you agree that those of us walking around with extra weight are – deep down, at a subconscious level – using our weight as a shield from the pain of the outside world? As a barrier between us and (what we feel is) chaos?
When I first heard this truth from Louise Hay — that a need for protection is a spiritual root of weight gain — my intuition started screaming, “Yes! This makes so much sense!”
All my life as I struggled with being the “pudgy kid” and the “big boned woman” I also had a belief that the world was a big, scary place. I was desperate to hide from it. My natural inclination towards anxiety made me predisposed to cling to any kind of protection I could get – and that’s where food came in.
Food was reliable while the authority figures in my life were not. Food also made me feel good. It’s no surprise, then, that being overweight is a natural response to anxiety. When we use food to cope with our feelings, it’s only natural that we develop a subconscious need for protection. This is my psychological explanation of the spiritual root of weight gain.
We need food to protect us from…
- Our feelings – by blunting our emotions due to physical sedation of binge eating.
- Rejection – because if someone rejects us, we can just blame it on being overweight, and it doesn’t have to feel so personal.
- Other people – because if we’re oversized, then we naturally intimidate others and sometimes we can use our size to nonverbally stick up for ourselves. Our bodies create our boundaries for us, so that we don’t have to deal with the process (that people pleasers hate!) of speaking up for ourselves.
But there’s painful irony here. While our overweight bodies are busy maintaining some boundaries for us, we struggle with feeling beyond our own boundaries; uncomfortable in a body that spills beyond the size that we intuitively know it should be.
Those of us that struggle with weight gain also struggle with feeling unseen and yet way too visible at the same time.
Other Spiritual Causes of Weight Gain
Before we get to the path out of cyclical weight gain, let’s quickly hone in on a few other spiritual causes for weight gain. Most of these were inspired by Louise Hay’s other book, You Can Heal Your Body. The causes are from Louise; the explanations are, of course, my own.
The spiritual root of weight gain could be…
- Trapped emotions: When we don’t process or express our feelings, they fester around inside; and if we don’t give them the attention that they need, we will subconsciously reach for food to numb the tension within.
- Running away from feelings: Many of us are aware the we turn to food for comfort. This is where the phrase “comfort food” comes from. But for those of us that lack emotional awareness, we don’t even realize that we’re reaching for food because of a feeling.
- High sensitivity: I don’t like being labeled as oversensitive any more than the next gal, but deep down I feel that this is true. Those of us that are highly sensitive (I personally identify as a Highly Sensitive Person) are much more inclined to reach for food to buffer the anxiety and tension that we feel more intensely than the average person.
- Hidden anger: This also makes sense to me. If we don’t express our anger, and we don’t let it out, the only other way it can go is in. When we hold our anger in, the only way to keep it in is to continuously shove it down; and it’s only natural that we subconsciously use food to metaphorically shove it down, too.
- Resistance to forgive: When we can’t forgive others, we hold onto anger and resentment, and it causes emotional stagnation. All of this is a recipe for weight gain because we aren’t letting go or releasing. How can we let go of our need for protection if we feel like we need protection from those that we haven’t fully forgiven?
- Self-rejection: Woof — this is one that I personally relate to, also. I used to have what I call Floating Head Syndrome, where I was so unhappy with my weight and my body that I detached from it and pretended like it wasn’t there. This self-rejection was an enormous spiritual root of weight gain for me. In fact, my entire journey with Psycho-Spiritual Wellness started with self-love affirmations learned from Louise Hay’s book!
- Seeking fulfillment: When we aren’t getting satisfaction from life, we will seek it through food! This is why so many of us tend to feel full but not satisfied after eating — because we weren’t hungry for food, we were hungry for soul nourishment.
- Anger at being denied love or nourishment: If you grew up in a house where your parents did not provide the love and nourishment that you needed to thrive, you may subconsciously be holding onto resentment towards this, and it’s manifesting as weight gain. We cannot release weight when we are busy holding tight to our resentments.
This is where understanding the metaphysical cause of physical ailments can help us better understand ourselves. When we look at the spiritual root of weight gain, we can hone in on the spiritual blocks to weight loss that are standing in the way.
Step #1 to Overcome Your Spiritual Root of Weight Gain: COMPASSION
Now that you know the spiritual roots of weight gain, let’s talk about ways that you can gently unravel these beliefs and let them go. This will help you create space in your life for a better relationship with food and body to manifest.
Before I dig into the concrete steps, I think it’s super importance to stress that the path towards a healthy relationship with food and body is compassion.
The spiritual roots of weight gain are DEEP and heavy. Furthermore, they are all perfectly good reasons to turn to food. Of course you want fulfillment, protection, and emotional comfort. These are wonderful things, and they are also human needs.
So first and foremost, can you take a moment to place your hand on your heart, close your eyes, and breathe deep into how normal you already are. Celebrate your humanness.
There’s always a perfectly good reason why we do the things we do around food, and beating ourselves up for normal, human behavior only makes things worse. Compassion is the first step. Below I’ll list a few more steps to dig at the spiritual root of weight gain.
The more detailed solution: Get more tips on this exact topic in my free ebook, The Spiritual Seeker’s Guide to Stop Binge Eating. If you love this post, you’ll LOVE that ebook! Grab your copy here »
How to Reach Your Natural Weight the Psycho-Spiritual Way
As someone that quite enjoys the “right-brained” side of metaphysics and spiritual ponderings, I also appreciate a good “left-brained” and analytical approach to solving problems, including the struggle with food and weight.
(After all, this blog is the home of Psycho-Spiritual Wellness: a path to feeling normal around food that’s rooted 100% in psychological and spiritual practices, not dieting!)
So let’s reverse-engineer the spiritual root of weight gain to find the solution!
Some of the biggest spiritual blocks to weight loss are trapped emotions, running away from feelings, a need for protection (likely from all those feelings) and high sensitivity (to — you guessed it — feeeelingsss, ugh).
Fortunately, you can work beyond these blocks by working on emotional expression and emotional tolerance.
Emotional expression refers to your ability to release your emotions out of your body. On the softer end, this can include talk therapy where you can vent about your struggles to a qualified professional. On the harder end, this can include kickboxing classes where you let out any repressed anger that you’ve been holding onto.
Then comes the work of emotional tolerance. This is my term for developing the ability to sit still with your emotions; to be the eye of the storm while chaos stirs around you but does not push you.
We need emotional expression to get festering emotions OUT; and we also need emotional tolerance to increase our ability to tolerate the normal highs and lows of life. Life will always throw curveballs at us; and the bigger your life is, the bigger the emotions you’ll have to deal with.
Some tools for this include my Stop, Drop, & Feel method to stop binge eating and meditation. Anything that encourages you to sit still with yourself for short periods of time is the golden ticket to learning how to cope without food.
Digging Up & Moving Past Your Spiritual Blocks
If you’ve read this far, you are my kind of person! It means you’re interested in the spiritual side of things, and that’s my jam! Diets and exercise don’t work — at least, not for the majority of us that already know what good food and movement entails, but our spiritual blocks prevent us from getting there.
It makes me enormously happy that the internet can connect me with such like-minded souls like you. And because you’ve read this far, you will LOVE my free ebook, The Spiritual Seeker’s Guide to Stop Binge Eating — it riffs on topics just like this! You can download it below: