There is no doubt that trapped emotions and weight gain are connected. While this is frustrating, no doubt about it, there are tools you can use to release this pattern and those trapped emotions along with it.
Today I’m going to dig into this topic by first discussing Louise Hay’s thoughts on trapped emotions and weight gain. She’s a pioneer in the metaphysical space and the perfect person for advice on this topic.
Then I’m going to dig into my own personal theory that stems from my experience overcoming compulsive eating and coaching others through the same.
Let’s start by talking about why emotions get trapped in the first place.
At the end of this post, there’s also a QUIZ to discover your eating psychology strength. If you’re curious, click here to jump straight to it!
How Are Emotions Trapped to Begin With?
From what I’ve seen and experienced, emotions get trapped either because of trauma or because we’ve been told that they’re “bad.” Because I’m not a therapist, I’m not going to be talking about trauma. Instead, we’re going to talk about how resisting negative emotion causes us to overeat — and how to release the pattern.
Negative emotion is a normal part of life. In fact, one could argue that some negative emotions is an indication that you’re living your life to the fullest; because when we take risks or make ourselves vulnerable to people that we trust, we may get our feelings hurt every now and then. This is a good thing, because it means we aren’t limiting ourselves over the fear of making mistakes or getting hurt.
However, this is a hard lesson to remember when we’re sick and tired of feeling bad. To make matters worst, social media has conditioned us to fixate on happiness, which can make you feel like something has gone horribly wrong when you feel bad.
If we label negative emotions as “bad” and then we resist them, those emotions only get stronger. Then it triggers a vicious cycle where we feel bad, we resist it, and then we feel even worse. This is what causes (non-traumatic) trapped emotions; and when we use food to buffer the discomfort, it can lead to overeating.
(Side note: In my online course on stopping compulsive eating, Food Normal, there’s an entire lesson on the 50/50 of life and how embracing this can greatly help our efforts to stop overeating.)
How Do Trapped Emotions Cause Weight Gain?
The idea that trapped emotions cause weight gain is a very psycho-spiritual idea, and I love it! After all, this blog is the home of Psycho-Spiritual Wellness: a path to stopping compulsive eating rooted purely in psychological and spiritual practices.
I whole-heartedly agree that there is a connection between trapped emotions and weight gain because that’s what “emotional eating” is. We feel a certain kind of way — a way that we don’t like one bit — and then we eat to buffer the discomfort. A classic example is binge eating a pint of ice cream after a break-up. But let’s take it even deeper.
It’s not just trapped emotions that lead to weight gain, but unfelt emotions. When we suppress a feeling, like loneliness for example, that feeling festers around inside and we subconsciously feel the need to buffer it. Then we feel the inclination to get out of bed at midnight, for example, and wander into the pantry and munch on chips even though we aren’t hungry. Bleh!
Many of us feel like this happens because we lack willpower, but it’s actually much deeper than that. It’s psycho-spiritual. Instead of acknowledging the loneliness and feeling it — and therefore allowing it to lose its power because we’ve stopped resisting it — we have a gut-reaction to reach for food to buffer the discomfort.
For many of us, this happens without us even knowing it, too! I refer to it as “unconscious eating” or “blur eating” and it’s one of the most obvious connections between trapped emotions and weight gain.
When we feel something uncomfortable, like sadness or loneliness, and we don’t feel those feelings, the emotions become trapped. This then causes us to overeat because we unconsciously (or consciously) buffer the discomfort with food.
Louise Hay’s Thoughts on Trapped Emotions and Weight Gain
I personally consider Louise Hay to be a pioneer in the “New Thought” movement (aka, allll the psycho-spiritual stuff). One of her most interesting concepts is that, for every physical ailment, there is a spiritual cause.
In Louise Hay’s book Heal Your Body: The Mental Causes for Physical Illness and the Metaphysical Way to Overcome Them, she outlines the metaphysical cause for many physical ailments, including weight gain.
According to Hay, weight gain is linked to oversensitivity, fear, and a need for protection. Instantly, I think we can all resonate with this. Psycho-spiritually, I think many of us can agree that carrying extra weight can feel like body armor.
When we feel anxious and insecure in our lives, food can not only become an anchor, but our weight can become another layer of buffering between us and the world. The weight of this truth feels heavy, doesn’t it?
Furthermore, if we are “sensitive” people (not that I enjoy that label one bit, but the “highly sensitive person” is a thing! a thing that I personally relate to), we will be more inclined to reach for food to buffer emotions because we don’t have the tolerance for it.
Lousie Hay also attributes weight gain with a resistance to forgive and running away from feelings. Boom, there it is. When we don’t feel our feelings and they become trapped, it can lead to weight gain.
(Side note: Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life is on my list of the best weight loss psychology books. It’s not about weight loss at all. It’s actually about self-love — but I personally think self-love and weight loss are inextricably connected.)
Now that we know the psycho-spiritual link between trapped emotions and weight gain, what can be done about it?
Get even more juicy thoughts on eating psychology in my FREE ebook “The Spiritual Seeker’s Guide to Stop Binge Eating.” It’s a perfect companion to this post. Click here to gain instant access to it!
Personal Thoughts on Trapped Emotions and Weight Gain
On my own journey of stopping compulsive eating, the tool that changed the game was my Stop, Drop, & Feel method to stop binge eating. It directly addresses the issue of trapped emotions. Essentially, this tool asks you to stop yourself before you eat when you aren’t hungry, drop into your body, and feel your feelings.
I know this may sound overly simple to actually help with binge eating, but it works. Back in the early days, I would use this tool and somehow manage to break down crying when I had no idea I was sad. I vividly remember having a craving for candy after my lunch one day and blaming it on sugar addiction. But then I decided to Stop, Drop, & Feel, and I instantly burst into tears.
This is how trapped emotions lead to weight gain, particularly when we ignore them. When we are out of touch with our emotions (and boy was that me!) we don’t express them and we certainly don’t feel them. Then those feelings fester and cause us to compulsively reach for a buffer like food. And we rationalize it away by labeling it as “sugar addiction” or “lack of willpower” when really, there’s a feeling rumbling around inside that desperately needs your attention.
I have heard stories from so many readers and clients who experience the same thing. They have a craving for food when they aren’t hungry, and even though it doesn’t feel emotional, they try the Stop, Drop, & Feel anyways — and they’re surprised when real emotion leaps forward.
The good news is that when these emotions come forward and we give them room to exist — and they lose their power because we stopped resisting them — it takes the compulsion out of the binge. Even if you feel like you have no willpower, this practice will help you stop a binge in its tracks. Try it and let me know how it goes!
Breaking the Link Between Trapped Emotion and Weight Gain
Overall, this is a true call to authenticity. In order to stop overeating and reach our natural weight, we need to release trapped emotions by feeling them. It won’t feel good, and it won’t lead to an Instagram-worthy moment, but you’ll be living your truth.
Fortunately, the reward is great. You’ll break the cycle of trapped emotions and weight gain — and that is worth celebrating.
If you dig these musings, then you’ll LOVE my free ebook that you can grab below. It’s called The Spiritual Seeker’s Guide to Stop Binge Eating, and if you read this far, I know you’ll absolutely love it.
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