Wisdom, these days, seems harder to come by. There’s all kinds of information being hurled at us from every direction. Sometimes it feels like every human on earth has a newsletter, a blog, and something to sell that will make all the pain go away. So, whenever I encounter wisdom and insight flowing from someone whose heart and mind are aligned with something greater, it feels as if the lights come on.

I recently had a rare personal and professional opportunity to interview over 35 amazing people, each one dedicated, in their own unique and compelling way, to uplifting others. I invited this amazing cast of soulful characters to help advance the field of Eating Psychology in an ambitious Online Eating Psychology Conference that, quite frankly, made more of a splash than I could’ve hoped for. I’d love to share with you some of the highlights that I’ve pulled out from the many nuggets of wisdom that were offered. Specifically, these are 8 Key Lessons which emerged that I strongly believe reposition the field of eating psychology in a very positive and powerful way.

I think you just might agree. Let me know what you think…

But first, some very brief context:

I have noticed over the years that researchers, experts, and various practitioners have focused their energy and attention strictly on the nutritional metabolism of eaters. Largely absent from the equation, however, has been a deep dive into the mind, heart, and soul of the eater. What’s more, even the nutritional science that we’ve largely invented has been limited in its scope and effectiveness. For decades now, I’ve been doing my best to bridge this gap and to bring an enlightened approach to eating psychology and nutritional science to the forefront. I’ve done my personal best through my books, writing, and through the Institute for the Psychology of Eating to share the kind of eating psychology that invites all of who we are to the table, and that includes the challenges not just of clinical eating disorders, but all the trials and tribulations that each one of us faces as an eater.

So far, so good…

My idea for this conference was to invite leaders from various disciplines who even though they aren’t necessarily experts in eating psychology – would very likely have some great “consulting” and advice to offer. Again, what follows here are 8 Lessons that emerged; themes I noticed that feel like guiding stars to better understand our relationship with food, and with life.

Lesson #1 – Eating Challenges as a Path to Wholeness

So many of us are taught to see our challenges with food, body and health as the enemy. Clearly, such things are a nuisance, and they get in our way of “getting things done”. Since eating challenges are seen as something we need to fight and defeat,  many of the strategies we’ve learned to deal with our eating issues are centered around self attack, intense amounts of control and willpower, and doing our best to beat our excess weight, or unwanted eating challenge, into submission. Well, the important lesson here is this: the strategy of attacking our eating challenges simply doesn’t work. If you look closely, it actually compounds the suffering we’re already in. It’s time for a new vision. Our eating challenges are not here to make us miserable. Quite the contrary, they‘re our hidden path to wholeness. They’re the wisdom of the universe acting through us to help us evolve and awaken. Luminaries in our conference such as Amy Pershing, Marsha Hudnall, Joanna Poppink and Geneen Roth, speak well to this deeper understanding. It’s time to completely re-context how we see such eating and health concerns. And the sooner we do this, the better.

Lesson #2 – Doing Service

Most often, when we’re trying to heal and transform overeating, binge eating, a health issue, an eating disorder, or any unwanted habits when it comes to food – we of course need to focus on “me.” We read books, we talk about ourselves, maybe we get some coaching – some therapy; we see practitioners, we do all kinds of research, and we can live in an endless search for “the answer.” So much of our life force is spent on fixing ourselves that there’s often little energy and attention left for anything else but our problem. Oddly enough, de-focusing on self and focusing on service to others is a powerful healing force for what ails us. For many people, this is literally the puzzle piece that helps bring healing into the picture. Luminaries in our conference such as Vandana Shiva, John Robbins and Kute Blackson are beautiful living examples of how a life of service can give one the kind of boundless energy and inspiration that can help ignite others and change the world. So, if you’re feeling stuck in any kind of food or health challenge, find a way to give your gift to others and notice what happens in your metabolism, and in your life.

Lesson #3- Alignment with Nature

We humans have come a long way in the eons of evolutionary time. We have all kinds of fabulous technologies, inventions, machines, and medical strategies that are designed to sniff out disease, and hopefully give us some healing relief. As I notice the world around me, it seems as if the technologies we’ve invented haven’t delivered on the promise of health. Machines cannot save us. A diet of artificial food cannot sustain us. Living in toxic cities and environments cannot elevate us. And being far removed from the natural world that gestated and spawned the human family creates a powerful deficiency in body and soul. So many of our ailments can be healed or alleviated when we return, even in little ways, to nature. This is not a cliché, but may very well be an absolute metabolic necessity. Nature heals. Nature re-calibrates us. Real food, real water, sun, fresh air, feet on the earth, and the beauty of the natural world is a deep source of nourishment. Luminaries such as Daniel Vitalis and David Wolfe speak so very well to this profound and much needed healing power.

Lesson #4 – The Mind Gut Connection

It’s so important to acknowledge that a good portion of our challenging relationship with food can have a powerful metabolic component. Specifically, the mind-gut connection is profound because the food we eat and the health of our digestive tract has a direct impact on emotions, mood, and even our personality. Food allergies and sensitivities, along with the profile of our gut microbes are often the keys to transforming many of our cravings, addictions, and unwanted food habits. Serotonin for example, a neurochemical that has a wonderful effect on mood, satisfaction and happiness is primarily produced in the gut. Indeed, about 90% of the total amount of serotonin in a healthy adult is produced in the digestive tract. All kinds of unwanted emotional turbulence can be helped by repairing gut ecology and eliminating allergenic foods. The important lesson to be learned here is that eating in alignment with what truly nourishes the body has a beautiful and healing effect on our inner world. Perhaps one of the greatest voices and experts in this realm is Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride.

Which one of these key lessons speaks most to where you’re at in your journey? I love to hear your stories.

This article is part one of a two part series. To read part two – please stay tuned!

And of course, if you wish to learn more about the 1st Global Online Eating Psychology Conference, or to purchase the recordings of this one-of-kind event, please CLICK HERE.

Warm regards,
Marc David
Institute for the Psychology of Eating
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2014

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P.S. – If you haven’t had a chance to check out our FREE information packed video series – The Dynamic Eating Psychology Breakthrough – you can sign up for it HERE. It’s a great way to get a better sense of the work we do here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. If you’re inspired by this work and want to learn about how you can become certified as an Eating Psychology Coach, please go HERE to learn more. And if you’re interested in working on your own personal relationship with food, check out our breakthrough 8-week program designed for the public – Transform Your Relationship with Food™ HERE.

  • jill

    I have been fat and I have been thin. In either state I had issues with food. I have recently lost 128lbs and I am working on the the next 65lbs. I have read EVERYTHING about dieting on the internet but in the end it was truly missing so much. I instinctively used visualization and my own version of much of what I have heard during the conference to make my way this far. . I just cried when I found this information. It is what I have been looking for. I know I am meant to serve others in this journey. I was a Music Minister for 23 years and I am a Bodyworker doing Neuromuscular Reprogramming. I am meant to serve. Connection is my gift. I feel great gratitude to you for your passion in leading the way in bringing all this wisdom together in one place.

    I have a new goal. I intend to enroll in the coaching Training next year. I am so excited. They say when the student is ready the teacher appears. Can’t wait.
    sincerly, Jill

  • Meg Sylvia

    Yes! “The Mind Gut Connection” really speaks to me. I truly believe that what we eat effects our mind and emotions, but I also believe that the opposite is true; the connection goes both ways!

    Some, myself included, completely lose our appetite when in emotional turmoil, which means we do not take in the nutrients we need. For some, of course, the opposite is true; they take in too much of the wrong foods when their mind or emotions are out of balance. I think it is so important to acknowledge all aspects of our health to discover true wellness.

    Thanks for sharing the insights you’ve found, Marc!

  • Dear Marc, I have so enjoyed the speakers you interviewed these past days. Of course I was not able to listen to all of them, but the ones I could, are food for times to come!
    A short comment on your article about the lessons to be learned. I couldn’t agree more with every word you write, starting from the very first, about the overflow of so called information. Makes us sick if we do not learn how to guard ourselves against this phenomenon. Chosing the path of trusting the universe instead of forcing yourself (or your “thing”) upon others.
    As allways, all the best wishes, Gwendolyn

  • Well, they say your second brain is in your gut, and aside from that, I definitely believe in the mind-gut connection. What we eat truly affects our minds and how we handle various situations – another reason why eating practices are so important to health.

  • Marc,
    I would like to say that not only did I learn from your conference, I find that your books and your website uplifting and filled with compassion, wisdom and common sense advice about eating.
    -As a dieter all my life I have been unhappy with my body and my resolve for a long as I can remember. I have become a life and wellness coach because I want to help women stop the insane quest for the skinny body. Obviously I want to help myself become kinder to my body as well… On my journey I found your book Nourishing Wisdom. It made so much sense to me and it changed the way I see my body and how I eat. Unfortunately I am unable to attend your coach training. But I am recommending it to others.
    Thank you so very much for the wonderful conference, I not only learned a lot I also felt validated. The conference gave me the opportunity to listen to many of the presenters. I have since looked at the websites of those I resonated with. I appreciate the synopsis of the conference content. I am forwarding this page to friends and clients.

    • Hi Vicki,
      Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words.
      I’m so glad that you found both my book and our recent conference so beneficial.
      We would love to have you in the future, and thank you for spreading the good word about the work we’re doing here at the Institute.


  • Bethany Kiele

    Marc, you amaze me with each bit of fresh insight gleaned from all of your interactions. I agree with your synopsis 100%.

    My husband and I have been living apart for the last nearly 6 months while he has been working in another state. While we enjoy each other immensely, and see each other once a month, I noticed that my eating habits are consistently driven by stress when we are together. I am constantly hungry while we are living under the same roof, as opposed to the time we spend apart, when many times, food is an afterthought in response to a growling stomach.

    I know this realization is more acute because of the body of work I am learning from you and all of the experts you gathered together. I’m excited to be working with my new tools towards a calmer ‘me’ in my relationship.

    I am blessed to be have found your fresh approach and am so looking forward to the course in October. Thanks for all of your great work!

    • Hi Bethany,
      Thank you for sharing your perspective here and a bit of your story.
      And we’re so happy to have you in the Training!
      See you soon…


  • Daria

    Marc, I am really enjoying your website. I heard about you via Jon Gabriel, and am exploring new ways to lose weight. I was skinny all my life!! I enjoyed working out and running, and could eat whatever I wanted!! Then after getting married and having two children only 14 months apart, I just could not find the time to exercise any more! I ate and ate and ate. When I reached 315 lbs., I decided to have gastric bypass because I wanted to live and move like I did when I was younger. I did lose 85 lbs, and got down to about 230. I felt 10 years younger. But! I didn’t change my eating habits for very long and didn’t incorporate a healthy lifestyle. Over the past 7 years since then, I have slowly been gaining again. At 265 now, I’m feeling more and more frustrated and scared! So I hope that by combining the new approaches I’m reading about, I can truly get a handle on all this! Thanks for doing what you do! At 53 years old, I’m hoping I can finally understand it all!

    • Hi Daria,
      Glad to have you here with us and thank you for sharing your story.
      I would highly recommend you consider working with an Eating Psychology Coach.

      Have you seen our new Graduate Directory? It is searchable by location as well as by specialty.
      I highly recommend you use this tool to discover someone close by or someone who is willing to work with clients over the phone or skype.

      Here’s the link to the directory for your convenience.

      My warmest wishes to you on your healing journey…

      Best regards,

    • shirley

      Hi Daria,
      I feel your words! and have been in similar situations. All my life I have see-sawed with weight, searched for the diet that would work. I stumbled across Partick Holford giving a talk at a Health fair in Dublin (I’m Irish) and he spoke aboutthe Glycaemic Index of foods, how we over eat but are under nourished. I have adopted his eating plan – his books are available to purchase from his website or amazon. I have also been reading Marc’s newsletters and signed up for his 8 week TYRF course. For me this 2 pronged approach has made a huge (excuse the pun) difference and I lost 20 lbs in 8 weeks but if felt effortless and I feel brilliant. Once I started to realise that sugar and other high glycaemic indexed foods were setting me off on eating binges and rectified how I was eating it was amazing. I feel so stable now, satisified and strong. Don’t despair. The food industry has a lot to answer for. Eat healthy and practise self compassion, give to others, enjoy your children, friends, elderly neighbours and parents, get out in nature ever day and notice something new. Life is wonderful. Smile to yourself and breathe it in.
      Happy Christmas.

  • Aamina

    Hi Marc,
    All these lessons speak to me. In my journey to having a loving relationship with food, my first and most profound learning was with lesson #1 Eating challenge as Path to Wholeness. I had so many emotional ties with food, that needed to be untangled before I could heal from unhealthy eating habits and patterns. The healing journey lead me to a deeper understanding about myself, about life and about my relationships with others that I am now so grateful for the struggle that was the doorway to deeper wisdom and understanding.

    Lesson #4 Brain Gut connection was also invaluable in my healing, as I discovered which foods I was sensitive to and heal my gut of unwanted organisms that were actually causing me to crave the foods that I couldn’t seem to avoid.

    • Hi Aamina,
      Thanks so much for sharing some of your story with us.
      Healing the gut is something so often overlooked and so essential – I’m glad you’re on the way to healing.


  • Sylvia

    Hi Marc,
    The conference was my first introduction to your organisation. Although I could not listen/view all the speakers, I was grateful for the ones I did see/hear. In some cases I immediately went to their website an subscribed, especially Jon Gabriel’s. So thank you for your involvement in introducing me (and many others) to their expertise.
    The lesson for me is #1. In 2012 I was diagnosed with food allergies, after searching many years for the cause of my fatigue. I’ve had food issues in the past (it didn’t have a name then, now its called compulsive eating habit) and food/diet is somewhat of an obsession of mine. I was over that, or so I though, but enter food allergies and my obsession came back full blast. It took me a year to accept the changes I had to make to my diet. It was an emotional battle for a large part of that. So not attacking my food challenge (my body for not doing what ” I want”) is definitely my lesson.

    • Hi Sylvia,

      Thank you for reaching out and sharing your kind words. I’m so glad that our work here has connected so much with you, and that we could introduce you to some great minds in the field.

      It sounds like you are on a great path to wholeness, thank you for sharing your story with us!


About The Author
Marc David

Marc David is the Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, a leading visionary, teacher and consultant in Nutritional Psychology, and the author of the classic and best-selling works Nourishing Wisdom and The Slow Down Diet. His work has been featured on CNN, NBC and numerous media outlets. His books have been translated into over 10 languages, and his approach appeals to a wide audience of eaters who are looking for fresh, inspiring and innovative messages about food, body and soul. He lectures internationally, and has held senior consulting positions at Canyon Ranch Resorts, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Johnson & Johnson Corporation, and the Disney Company. Marc is also the co-founder of the Institute for Conscious Sexuality and Relationship.