How to Stop Emotional Weight Gain

Weight Gain as Emotional Buffering: How to Stop It 

by Sarah Petruno, Shamana

When I was a freshman in college, I never did gain the freshman 15.

In fact, I lost it.

As a 19 year old girl, I was so proud of myself for overcoming the curse of weight gain during the first year of all you can eat dorm food.

Then I started my sophomore year.

I moved out of the dorms, with no more all-access-pass to food anytime I wanted it and instead, a college student budget for the local grocery store.

But, it was during that year that I gained nearly 50 pounds in less than 6 months.

Towards the end of the previous school year, my mom and sister called me on the phone on a conference call for a serious talk.

It was about my Dad.

His drinking problem had gotten very serious to the point that he was blacking out nightly and couldn’t keep his high-powered job as a lawyer anymore.

It was this job that paid for my college.

You see, when he first started drinking a few years prior, we didn’t mind. In fact, we didn’t see a problem. His anger and rage problems that were present before, completely vanished when he drank, and he became the friendly, loving dad we always wished he would be. He was actually nice to us when he drank.

Then, his two oldest daughters went to college and the drinking escalated, and it escalated fast.

I was his favorite daughter.

All alone at college, I had to face that my genius lawyer and materials science engineer, role model dad, had a life-threatening struggle with his addiction.

Very quickly, his drinking moved beyond making him just a nice guy. It had now turned him into a complete stranger.

Someone who I once looked up to, I now screened his calls and avoided going home. I was embarrassed when he came to visit me at college and I was refusing to admit that my dad was no longer the person he was before I left for college.

I also suddenly had to figure out how to pay for college tuition and my living expenses completely on my own.

Because not only was I no longer being supported, my role model dad was now using my student loan money to pay his own bills.

I got 2 jobs while going to college full time.

And, I gained 50 pounds in just under 6 months.

I can’t say that I was really eating more.

I didn’t stop exercising either, I walked and rode my bike everywhere and took classes at the campus gym.

The weight just piled on anyway.

But there was one thing I was hanging on to.


Pain that I was losing my dad, pain that I was alone, and pain when I didn’t want to accept that this was my life. Pain and more pain, that I didn’t want to process or work through.

I didn't want my dad to be slowly dying from a highly stigmatized disease. I wanted it all to not be happening to me. So, emotionally, I tried to pretend like it wasn’t.

I wasn’t releasing and moving through my pain and heartache in a healthy way.

And because I was holding onto emotional energy, I started to hold on to physical energy, too.

My metabolism slowed down to match my emotional energy hoarding, and my physical body stopped processing nutrients properly.

Weight Gain as Emotional Buffering: How to Stop It 

Why the Weight Gain Happens

When you hold onto emotional pain and trauma, not allowing yourself to process and work through the grief, you hold on to energy. Particularly, you hold on to low, often called negative, energy.

We are all individuals made of more than just our physical bodies.

We have emotions, thoughts, and feelings that comprise what is known as our spiritual body.

These feelings carry with them an energy.

Our physical body is also made of energy - atoms, molecules, protons, neutrons, and electrons are all core energetic components that make up our bones, our hair, our skin, our teeth and our blood.

We’re energetic beings.

Often, when we hold onto energy of one type in our emotional selves - our body doesn’t realize that this “holding on” is only meant for emotions and not meant for anything else.

So, this can trigger a survival type response of our metabolic system. Our body starts to hold on to calories and energy - because it sees it happening elsewhere within us - in our emotions and it just follows suit.

You don’t have to be eating more for emotional weight gain to happen.

If you’re holding onto pain, if you’ve experienced emotional trauma or heartache, and you aren’t allowing yourself to grieve and to come to terms with the newness of it - you’re unintentionally holding onto energy that could cause weight gain.

To get the weight gain to stop or to avoid it altogether, you have to do whatever it takes to heal yourself. You have to release the pain.

You have move through your emotional pain and accept your new normal.

You have to grieve.

You have to feel it, release it, and come out the other side.

How each person heals is an entirely unique experience.

It could be through journaling, through seeing a therapist, through dance, through exercise, through meditation, through seeing a spiritual healer, or through embarking on your own journey of self discovery.

It doesn’t matter how you heal and release the pain, just that you do.

And when you do, you’ll release the weight.

In order to heal it, you have to feel it. You have to allow yourself to feel the emotions fully.

Doing this, is also an energetic release.

The process of healing yourself releases the pain, and tells your body that you’re done holding on.

As for me, this process took years, but it doesn’t have to. The sooner you are ready to start healing, the sooner the process of loss can begin.

With love,


LAST UPDATED: March 8, 2015

Weight Gain as Emotional Buffering: How to Stop It 
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