The Spiritual Root of Weight Gain: Unraveling the Metaphysical Meaning

13 spiritual causes of weight gain: unpacking the metaphysical cause of stubborn weight

Curious about the spiritual meaning of weight gain and the spiritual blocks to weight loss? As a woman that is passionate about the psycho-spiritual side of eating behavior, I am of course fascinated by the metaphysical “root” of physical symptoms. What causes us to cling to weight, and what switch “flips” when we suddenly lose weight?

Venturing into the realm of metaphysics signifies a departure from the well-known approach of dieting for weight loss, and that’s a good thing! If you’ve spent years grappling with overeating and weight gain, then maybe the answers can’t be found in a diet. Maybe there’s actually something to the spiritual side of compulsive eating after all.

The book that started it all for me was Heal Your Body by Louise Hay. As a pioneer in the realm of metaphysics, Louise Hay is the perfect resource for exploring the spiritual meaning of weight gain. Through her lessons and my own experience, let’s unpack the spiritual blocks to weight loss together.

Pre.S. This blog is the home of Psycho-Spiritual Wellness, a path to stopping compulsive eating via psychological and spiritual practices — no diets, no exercise advice. It’s all about the inner journey.

The Spiritual Reason for Weight Gain

Before we dive into the nitty gritty, let’s discuss the biggest spiritual reason for weight gain: a need for protection. When I first discovered this through Louise Hay’s work, it deeply resonated with me.

Would you agree that carrying extra weight could be, at a deeply subconscious level, an attempt to feel protected from vulnerability and emotional pain? At a metaphysical level, could the physical symptoms of excess weight symbolize a psycho-spiritual need for protection from (what we feel is) chaos?

When I first heard this truth from Louise Hay — that a need for protection is a spiritual block to weight loss — my intuition practically shouted, “Yes! This makes so much sense!”

All my life I struggled with being the “pudgy kid” and the “big boned woman,” and I also carried a belief that the world was a big, scary place. I was desperate to hide from it. My heightened sensitivity made me 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.

In hindsight, it’s no surprise that weight gain was a natural byproduct of my need for protection, especially when I felt like no one had my back. A need for protection is arguably the most significant spiritual block to weight loss.

Other Spiritual Blocks to Weight Loss

I’ll share some of my best tips for overcoming the psycho-spiritual blocks to weight loss soon. Before we get there, let’s continue to explore some of the other spiritual reasons for weight gain. Awareness paves the way towards change, so let’s fully sink our teeth into the potential spiritual meaning of the weight struggle.

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. This is how trapped emotions lead to weight gain. Additionally, these unresolved emotions can disrupt the balance of our chakras, energy centers in the body, leading to further energetic and physical disharmony.
  • Seeking fulfillment: Fulfillment is a spiritual need that we all have, and if it is lacking, it may trigger compulsive eating and therefore weight gain. For instance, someone with a fulfilling life may feel full but not satisfied after a meal without feeling distressed by it; while another person who lacks fulfillment might eat beyond physical hunger in a search for the sense of satisfaction that eludes them.
  • Hidden anger: If you don’t express your anger in a healthy way, it can fester and trigger overeating. When we hold our anger in, the only way to keep it in is to continuously shove it down, like through overeating. Sometimes we don’t even realize anger is festering, making this one of the more overlooked spiritual blocks to weight loss.
  • 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, you may subconsciously hold resentment towards this. Even if decades have passed, it can manifest as a spiritual reason for weight gain. We cannot release weight when we are busy holding tight to our resentments.
  • Resistance to forgive: When we can’t forgive others and hold onto that anger and resentment, those emotions can fester and drive compulsive eating. As author Karol Truman says, “feeling buried alive never die.” How can we let go of excess weight if we can’t let go of our resentments?
  • Running away from feelings: It’s normal to turn to food for comfort, especially in the presence of stress, depression, and sadness.[1] And it’s well-known that emotional eating often leads to weight gain.[2] Through a psychological lens, overeating might serve as a maladaptive coping mechanism for unwanted emotion. Through a spiritual lens, overeating can reflect the recurring theme of a need for protection.
  • Low tolerance for uncertainty: When a person is sensitive to distress, they are more likely to reach for food as a buffer.[3] The lower your tolerance for chaos, the greater your need for stability — and relinquishing the need for control may assist, at a spiritual level, with relinquishing the extra weight.
  • High sensitivity: If you’re a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), it means that you process sensory stimuli more deeply than the average person and have a greater susceptibility to overstimulation. As a result, HSPs may be more inclined to reach for food to buffer overwhelming emotions. This, yet again, relates to the spiritual need for protection.
  • Fear of rejection: Another spiritual reason for weight gain could be a need for protection from rejection. Clinical research shows a correlation between weight gain and expectations of social rejection.[4] I personally resonate with this, and it can be such a difficult truth because it’s a vicious cycle: being overweight heightens the fear of rejection which in turn can heighten the need to buffer emotions with food.
  • Self-rejection: In Louise Hay’s book, Heal Your Body, she suggests that self-rejection is one of the spiritual causes of weight gain. The physical accumulation of excess weight might symbolize the emotional and psychological burdens of not accepting oneself. In her book, Louise provides affirmations to help heal this spiritual need.

By understanding the spiritual meaning of weight gain, we can hone in on the metaphysical blocks to weight loss that are standing in the way. In Louise Hay’s books, she explains that uplifting one aspect of the trinity — body, mind, and spirit — promotes growth in the other aspects.

For some people, they can work on their mindset to reach their natural weight; for others, they can work on the spiritual blocks to weight loss to help accelerate their progress. Listen to and follow whichever path resonates most with you, because that will lead to the most motivation and long-lasting change.

How to Reach Your Natural Weight the Psycho-Spiritual Way

Now that you know the spiritual reason for weight gain, let’s discuss practical tools for gently unraveling these beliefs and letting go. This will help you create space in your life for a better relationship with food.

Let’s reverse-engineer the metaphysical causes 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 — feelings. Fortunately, you can work beyond these blocks by working on emotional skills and delving into any limiting beliefs.

Here are four tools for promoting spiritual growth:

1. Emotional Awareness

listening to your body can help sharpen emotional attunement

Emotional awareness is your ability to recognize, understand, and manage your emotions. By developing a deeper understanding of your emotions and the triggers that lead to emotional eating, you can start to dismantle the spiritual blocks to weight loss.

Like all skills, emotional awareness is built through practice. Identifying and labeling your emotions is a great practice for emotional awareness. Try to pause throughout your day to check in with yourself and get curious about how you’re genuinely feeling.

Also, practice listening to your body, as physical attunement can pave the way to emotional attunement.[5] This is one reason why I advocate giving up dieting, because instead of relying on an external set of rules, it trains you to turn your focus inward — the perfect catalyst for spiritual growth.

2. Emotional Expression

Emotional expression is your ability to communicate and release your emotions so that they don’t fester and perpetuate compulsive eating. Here are some steps for developing emotional expression and releasing some of the spiritual blocks to weight loss:

  • Physical Activity: Engaging in vigorous exercise, like running, boxing, or any high-intensity physical activity, can serve as a powerful outlet for releasing pent-up emotions, including anger.
  • Creative Arts: Channeling emotions into creative pursuits such as painting, writing, playing music, or dancing allows for expression in a constructive and often therapeutic manner.
  • Journaling or Writing Angry Letters: Writing down thoughts and feelings in a private journal is a way to express and process emotions, providing clarity and a sense of release. If you struggle with anger or resentment, it can often help to write an angry letter to the person who wronged you and then burn the letter or rip it up and throw it in the trash.
  • Screaming into a Pillow: For immediate anger release, screaming into a pillow or another soft, muffled surface can provide a safe and direct way to express and let go of anger.
  • Cathartic Activities: Engaging in cathartic activities like smashing old ceramics in a safe environment (sometimes offered at rage rooms) or tearing up paper can physically manifest the process of releasing anger.

With all forms of emotional expression, it’s important to make sure that you’re focused on releasing emotion instead of trying to feel better and stuff the emotion down even further. Trying to feel better is a natural human tendency, so pay close attention to processing and expressing the full spectrum of emotion instead of trying to only feel positive emotions.

3. Emotional Tolerance

Instead of resisting discomfort and uncertainty, train in sitting still with it

Finally comes the work of emotional tolerance, your ability to sit still with uncomfortable emotions without getting swept into compulsion. Negative emotions are a normal part of life, and it’s important to develop fluency with them. Instead of treating them like something that you need to push away, there’s immense personal power in allowing discomfort to coexist with you sometimes.

This is where my Stop, Drop, & Feel method comes into play. The next time you feel the desire to eat without hunger, pause and drop into your body and get curious: how are you feeling? Not only does this tool help develop emotional awareness, but it also promotes emotional tolerance.

When I was starting my journey, I would often stumble upon the feeling of rejection when I did the Stop, Drop, & Feel. In hindsight, the fear of rejection was one of my spiritual causes of overeating; and by developing tolerance for that cringe-worthy emotion, I stopped relying on food as a buffer. I also eventually stopped struggling with the emotion (as frequently, I’m still human!) as all of this work helped improve other areas of my life. Just like Louise Hay shares, working on the spiritual side naturally helps elevate everything else.

4. Self-Inquiry

Emotional skills will take you far on this journey, but you can’t stop there. If you want to fully unravel the spiritual blocks to weight loss, you need to practice self-inquiry. You can discover hidden blocks and subconscious triggers for self-sabotage by asking yourself what you believe about food, weight, and everything in between. 

You must use a pen and paper because you cannot access subconscious beliefs by thinking it through in your head. Your everyday thoughts get in the way. This is where workbooks can help, especially those tailored to healing your relationship with food like my digital workbook, Why We Do the Things We Do.

After I created this workbook, I sat down to complete it (like any good chef that taste tests) and I was still able to discover limiting beliefs that I didn’t even know I had. This shows how deeply subconscious limiting beliefs can be, and why pen and paper are necessary for success.

Digging Up & Moving Past Your Spiritual Blocks to Weight Loss

If you’ve read this far, you are my kind of person! It means you’re interested in healing your relationship with food through a spiritual lens, and that’s my jam. To keep learning about the spiritual link between your beliefs and eating habits, see below to download my free ebook, The Spiritual Seeker’s Guide to Stop Binge Eating — it riffs on topics just like this.

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Ready to dive even deeper into your journey of self-discovery? I proudly present my most celebrated workbook, Why We Do the Things We Do. This 75-page digital workbook reveals your unique psychological blocks to compulsive eating. By actually putting pen to paper, you’ll be surprised by what comes up.

Some say ‘feel it to heal it’ but this workbook takes it a step deeper and helps you ‘see it to heal it.’ If you’re the kind of person who logically knows how to live a healthy lifestyle but you compulsively do the opposite, this workbook will illuminate what’s standing in the way. Then, you know exactly where to focus your energy.

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8 thoughts on "The Spiritual Root of Weight Gain: Unraveling the Metaphysical Meaning"

  1. Hsin-Yisays:

    Love it! On point! Funny and truthful. Thank you for doing your work and sharing it with humanity. Love you! 😘

    1. Kari Dahlgrensays:

      Thank you Hsin-Yi!!! I am so glad you found it relatable and helpful. You know, I think it’s so cool that I can write something this ‘far out there’ and have someone stumble upon it and love it. That is magic to me!!!

  2. Taylorsays:

    Metaphysical aspects of weight gain are profound but they don’t have to do anything with over eating food here in the USA.
    From a 3D physical aspect, we can gain weight here in the USA very easily from the medical impact that our food has even when we’re eating very ‘healthy’. While this is not the most common knowledge, medical research data does exist to support this info and more research is being made.
    I gained 60 pounds not eating much on on a daily basis. Then I focused stringently on diet and exercise for 2 months and couldn’t lose even 1 pound! I’m not the only person that’s gone through this. Weight gain isn’t always from over eating!
    This makes the metaphysical causes of weight gain even more important.

    1. Kari Dahlgrensays:

      Hi Taylor! I am not a medical expert by any means, but I do wonder if your metabolism needs attention. Gaining weight even when you’re not eating much sounds like, at least partly due to, a slow metabolism; and then eating even less by dieting stringently would only make your metabolism even slower. Coupling a strict diet with exercise actually stresses your body out and causes it to conserve energy (body fat) instead of releasing it. I’m a huge advocate for eating enough food!!! See my post on boosting your metabolism

  3. Jody Reynoldssays:

    Wow! I have really enjoyed reading all of your info. In fact, I have shared it with friends. I have been struggling to lose weight for a while but one thing g that I have found that helps me feel good is to NOT let yourself down. If you promise yourself something, deliver. Otherwise, you realize you can’t trust yourself. Once you don’t trust yourself, everything goes bananas. I trust I take good care of myself and feed myself nourishing food. I trust the choices I make for myself to be in my highest good.

    I’m excited to read all of your material and may be back to purchase your e-books! Thank you for bringing spirituality to the forefront. I also believe it is the basis for everything we do. And I think you may have just cracked open something new for me.

    1. Kari Dahlgrensays:

      Hi Jody!! I am so glad this resonated with you. Isn’t it powerful digging into the spiritual side of things? And I agree that self-trust is really important. Giving up dieting also helps with that too. When we stop setting up rules that we inevitably break, we stop feeling like we can’t trust ourselves.

  4. Vitasays:

    I have a question on your digital workbook. Is it available in already printed book, like an actual physical workbook I can buy?
    Thank you

    1. Kari Dahlgrensays:

      Hi Vita! I am like you and appreciate a physical workbook too. All my products are only available digitally right now. While I wish I could offer physical copies, I am too small of a business owner right now to make it happen. Goals, though! A journal really does work just as well. All that matters is that you have pen and paper. <3

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