The Spiritual Root of Weight Gain: Unraveling the Metaphysical Causes of Overeating

10 spiritual causes of weight gain: how to release your blocks

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?

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 trying to figure out the weight gain- and food-struggle, 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 You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. That amazing powerhouse of a woman practically invented affirmations (as far as I’m aware) and through decades of experience, she nailed down (what she believes are) the metaphysical causes, or spiritual “roots,” of physical ailments including the spiritual root of weight gain and overeating.

Pre.S. This blog is the home of Psycho-Spiritual Wellness, a path to healing your relationship with food through purely psychological and spiritual practices; no diets, no exercise advice. It’s all about the inner journey.

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 clinical science. I think you’ll agree with me when I say that all of it intuitively feels right.

Let’s start with the biggest spiritual root of weight gain: a need for protection. Does that resonate with you? It certainly did for me — in a vulnerable way that made me feel exposed. Would you agree that those of us walking around with extra weight could be — deep down, at a subconscious level — using our weight as a shield to protect us from emotional pain? 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 was a natural byproduct of anxiety.

When we use food to cope with our feelings, it's only natural that we develop a subconscious need for protection. To me, this is the most significant 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 person, 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: This one is heavy, and it’s one that I personally relate to. 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.

Before going any further, 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.

How to Reach Your Natural Weight the Psycho-Spiritual Way

As someone that quite enjoys the “right-brained” (creative, non-analytical) side of metaphysics and spiritual ponderings, I also appreciate a good “left-brained” (logical, linear) and analytical approach to solving problems, including the struggle with food and weight.

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 — feelings.

Fortunately, you can work beyond these blocks by working on emotional expression and emotional tolerance.

woman sitting in a messy room meditating on her bed to address the spiritual root of weight gain

This is how normal people meditate — taking a break in a messy room to grasp an inch of stability in this messy, magnificent life

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 with your emotions without food.

“Feel It to Heal It” Moves Into “See It to Heal It”

If you want to take your spiritual journey a step further, you can move beyond emotional work and dive into some self-inquiry. Asking yourself about what you believe about food, weight, and life will help you discover subconscious limiting beliefs that might be holding you back.

They say “feel it to heal it.” While the Stop, Drop, & Feel helps you gain ‘spiritual mastery,’ if you will, with your emotions, it does not necessarily help with limiting beliefs. This is where my workbook Why We Do the Things We Do can help.

Why we do the things we do
cover of "why We Do the Things We Do" with arrow pointing to pages saying "powerful prompts to dig at the subconscious beliefs that fuel self-sabotage around food"

As Joan Didion once famously said, “I don’t know what I know until I write it down.” Just the same, you cannot think your way through limiting beliefs in your head. You need to separate your thoughts onto paper.

My bestselling workbook, Why We Do the Things We Do, helps you dig deep into the subconscious reasons why you do the things you do around food. It can definitely help you dig at the spiritual root of weight gain.

At the risk of packing this too full of quotes, the workbook helps you take ‘feel it to heal it’ a step further so that you can ‘see it to heal it.’ When I completed this workbook myself, I still got something from it even though I knew what to expect. That’s how powerful it is to separate your thoughts onto paper.

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 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. 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:

Keep It Going: Get "The Spiritual Seeker's Guide to Stop Binge Eating" (Free Ebook)

The Spiritual Seeker's Guide to Stop Binge Eating

The Spiritual Seeker’s Guide to Stop Binge Eating will show you even more insight into the subconscious reasons why we eat past fullness — even when we really don’t want to! (It’s a free, 13-page, beautifully-illustrated PDF.)

When you sign up, you’ll also get a free 5-part crash course in Psycho-Spiritual Wellness to catch you up to speed. It’s perfect if you’re new to my blog. Sign up below:

You're On a Roll: Take the Eating Psychology QUIZ!

Even if you struggle with overeating, I bet I can guess your strength around food.

If you think food is your weakness, take the quiz and give me the chance to change your mind. There are just 8 questions.

Once you finish, you can either skip the email part (because I hate quizzes that force you to enter one!) or you can sign up to get a free 5-day crash course on Psycho-Spiritual Wellness. It’s perfect for beginners!

You're Really on a Roll: Get a Handle on Self-Sabotage

Bestseller: Why We Do the Things We Do

If you’re ready to take things even deeper, check out my most popular workbook, Why We Do the Things We Do: A Workbook to Curb Self-Sabotage.

By actually putting pen to paper, you’ll be surprised by what comes up. This is how you can discover your unique psychological blocks to compulsive eating.

I swear by workbooks!!! There is something about separating our thoughts onto paper that allows us to dig DEEP at our subconscious blocks around food and weight.

If you like everything you’ve read so far, this is the perfect place to make massive progress. (It’s my bestseller, after all!)

Since you're here, I would LOVE it if you dropped a comment on this post.

I read and reply to every single one! Just like I do with my emails. Since I don’t use much social media (outside of Pinterest and YouTube), I very much enjoy this opportunity to hear your thoughts and connect ✨

4 thoughts on "The Spiritual Root of Weight Gain: Unraveling the Metaphysical Causes of Overeating"

  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

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