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One of the most fundamental building blocks of nutritional metabolism is neither vitamin, mineral, nor molecule. It’s our relationship with food. It’s the sum total of our innermost thoughts and feelings about what we eat. This relationship with food is as deep and revealing as any we might ever have. The great Sufi poet Rumi once remarked: “The satiated man and the hungry man do not see the same thing when they look upon a loaf of bread.” And Al Capone, noted gangster, astutely observed, “When I sell liquor, it’s called bootlegging; when my patrons serve it on silver trays on Lake Shore Drive, it’s called hospitality.” Indeed, how each of us thinks about eating is so profoundly relative that if a group of us were looking at the same plate of food, no two people would see the same thing, or metabolize it the same way.

Say, for example, we were examining a plate of pasta, chicken, and salad. A woman wanting to lose weight might see calories and fat. She’d respond favorably to the salad or chicken but would view the pasta with fear. An athlete trying to gain muscle mass might look at the same meal and see protein. She’d focus on the chicken and look past the other foods. A pure vegetarian could see the distasteful sight of a dead animal and wouldn’t touch anything on the plate. A chicken farmer, on the other hand, would likely be proud to see a good piece of meat. Someone trying to heal a disease through diet would see either potential medicine or potential poison, depending upon whether or not the plate of food is permissible on her chosen diet. A scientist studying nutrient content in food would see a collection of chemicals.

What’s amazing is that each of these eaters will metabolize this same meal quite differently in response to her unique thoughts. In other words, what you think and feel about a food can be as important a determinant of its nutritional value and its effect on body weight as the actual nutrients themselves.

Sound unbelievable?

Here’s a bit about how the science works:

How Your Brain Eats

The information highway of brain, spinal cord, and nerves is like a telephone system through which your mind communicates with your digestive organs. Let’s say you’re about to eat an ice cream cone. The notion and image of that ice cream occurs in the higher center of the brain – the cerebral cortex. From there, information is relayed electrochemically to the limbic system, which is considered the “lower” portion of the brain. The limbic system regulates emotions and key physiological functions such as hunger, thirst, temperature, sex drive, heart rate, and blood pressure. Within the limbic system is a pea-sized collection of tissues known as the hypothalamus, which integrates the activities of the mind with the biology of the body. In other words, it takes sensory, emotional, and thought input and transduces this information into physiological responses. This is nothing short of a miracle.

If the ice cream is your favorite flavor – say, chocolate – and you consume it with a full measure of delight, the hypothalamus will modulate this positive input by sending activation signals via parasympathetic nerve fibers to the salivary glands, esophagus, stomach, intestines, pancreas, liver, and gallbladder. Digestion will be stimulated and you’ll have a fuller metabolic breakdown of the ice cream while burning its calories more efficiently.

If you’re feeling guilty about eating the ice cream or judging yourself for eating it, the hypothalamus will take this negative input and send signals down the sympathetic fibers of the autonomic nervous system. This initiates inhibitory responses in the digestive organs, which means you’ll be eating your ice cream but not fully metabolizing it. It may stay in your digestive system longer, which can diminish your population of healthy gut bacteria and increase the release of toxic by-products into the bloodstream. Furthermore, inhibitory signals in the nervous system can decrease your calorie-burning efficiency via increased insulin and cortisol, which would cause you to store more of your guilt-infused ice cream as body fat. So the thoughts you think about the food you eat instantly become reality in your body via the central nervous system.

The brain doesn’t distinguish between a real stressor or an imagined one. If you sat in a room all by yourself, happy and content, and started thinking about the guy who did you wrong years ago, and if that story still carries a charge for you – your body would quickly shift into the physiologic stress-state – increased heart rate and blood pressure, followed by decreased digestive function.

Any guilt about food, shame about the body, or judgment about health are considered stressors by the brain and are immediately transduced into their electrochemical equivalents in the body. You could eat the healthiest meal on the planet, but if you’re thinking toxic thoughts the digestion of your food goes down and your fat storage metabolism can go up. Likewise, you could be eating a nutritionally challenged meal, but if your head and heart are in the right place, the nutritive power of your food will be increased.

Placebo on a Plate

To fully appreciate the power of mind over metabolism, let’s take a fresh look at one of the most compelling phenomenon in science: the placebo effect. Here’s my favorite example of this extraordinary force.

In 1983, medical researchers were testing a new chemotherapy treatment. One group of cancer patients received the actual drug being tested while another group received a placebo – a fake harmless, inert chemical substance. As you may know, pharmaceutical companies are required by law to test all new drugs against a placebo to determine the true effectiveness, if any, of the product in question. In the course of this study, no one thought twice when 74 percent of the cancer patients receiving the real chemotherapy exhibited one of the more common side effects of this treatment: they lost their hair. Yet, quite remarkably, 31 percent of the patients on the placebo chemotherapy – an inert saltwater injection – also had an interesting side effect: they lost their hair too. Such is the power of expectation. The only reason that those placebo patients lost their hair is because they believed they would. Like many people, they associated chemotherapy with going bald.

So if the power of the mind is strong enough to make our hair fall out when taking a placebo, what do you think happens when we think to ourselves “This cake is fattening, I really shouldn’t be eating it,” or “I’m going to eat this fried chicken but I know it’s bad for me,” or “I enjoy eating my salad because it’s really healthy?”

Certainly I’m not saying we can eat poison without any harm if we believe it’s good for us. I’m suggesting that what we believe about any substance we consume can powerfully influence how it affects the body. Every day, millions of people eat and drink while thinking strong and convincing thoughts about their meal.

Consider some of the foods you’ve given strong associations to:

“Salt will raise my blood pressure.”

“Fat will make me fatter.”

“Sugar will rot my teeth.”

“I can’t make it through the day without my cup of coffee.”

“This meat will raise my cholesterol level.”

“This calcium will build my bones.”

To a certain degree, some of these statements may be true. But is it possible that we are instigating these effects? And if these effects are the inherent result of eating these foods, can you see how we can enhance those results with the potency of our expectations?

The placebo effect is not some rare and unusual creature.

Its appearance is quite commonplace. Researchers have estimated that 35 to 45 percent of all prescription drugs may owe their effectiveness to placebo power and that 67 percent of all over-the-counter medications, such as headache remedies, cough medicines, and appetite suppressants, are also placebo based. In some studies the response to placebos is as high as 90 percent.

It amazes me that very few in the scientific community have made the obvious connection between placebo power and food. Indeed, the placebo effect is built into the nutritional process. It’s profoundly present on a day-to-day basis every time we eat. It’s like phoning in a prescription to your own inner nutritional pharmacy. What we believe is alchemically translated into the body through nerve pathways, the endocrine system, neuropeptide circulation, the immune network, and the digestive tract.

Can you see the importance of your inner world when it comes to metabolizing a meal? Are you ready to bring your happier and more relaxed self to the table?

I love to hear your thoughts and insights. Please share your own stories about the power of the mind to influence a meal.

My warmest regards,
Marc David
Founder of the 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 FoodHERE.

  • Interesting site. I just saw this site for the first time! I liked the “Unusual toxins” post too.

  • Lisa

    You’ve stated the problem. Now what’s the clear solution for those of us who’ve struggled with weight issues and food guilt all of our lives. How do we begin to unravel years of counterproductive thinking?

  • Sue

    What I’m resonating with after reading this article is how important it is to do ones’ homework, incorporate the best dietary and lifestyle principles into ones’ life-‘best’ according to what one feels is truly best for ones’ own self-and USE this powerful effect for maximum benefit to ones’ own health and well-being without reference to or regard for what another might conclude is best for his/her own self, and without judgement toward what others may become convinced is the way they need to eat or live, etc. Just don’t be foolish enough to fall for any hype about it being OK to ingest things that truly are poison. I can live with it. It makes good sense, and clears up a number of gray areas for me. Thanks for this article.

    • Marc David

      Hi Sue,

      Thank you for your comment!
      It sounds like you have a great understanding of how to incorporate this work in to your life. Congratulations!
      We are glad you are part of this community.

      Warm regards,

      Marc David

  • I love reading your thoughts Marc, as I’ve always been fascinated by the combination of psychology and nutrition. I’m interested in looking up the chemo/placebo study you mentioned to read more about it… I did a search online but can’t find it– can you provide a link or reference for me to look into? Thanks! Corinne

    • Marc David

      Hi Corinne,

      Thank you for your kind words!
      Here is the source of the study: J.W. Fielding, “Adjunct Chemotherapy in Operable Gastric Cancer” world Journal of Surgery 7, no. 3, 1983
      We are so glad that you are intrigued by this work.


      Marc David

  • Michele

    Brilliant and insightful! It excites me to know there’s so much more to food than what most people think they know. I am proud to learn from you and your staff so I can be involved in spreading the word and helping people navigate through their discomforts around food. Thank You!

    • Marc David

      Hi Michele,

      Thank you for your willingness to spread the good word about the work that we do here at IPE.
      We are very grateful that you are in our training.

      Warm regards,

      Marc David

  • Natalie

    Good information but it’s interesting to know the original source of it.

    • Marc David

      Hi Natalie,

      Thank you for your comment!
      The source can be found here: J.W. Fielding, “Adjunct Chemotherapy in Operable Gastric Cancer” world Journal of Surgery 7, no. 3, 1983

      Warm regards,

      Marc David

  • vSb

    Would these ideas be transferrable in some way to people with serious illnesses in which some foods might make them much more ill? It just seems that when you are seriously ill the whole “food thing” becomes so much more stressful and difficult. My best friend has sarcoidosis. She is very ill. We don’t agree on whether or not what we eat can affect a medical condition. I believe that it does and that it could at least improve her quality of life. She feels she’s tried some dietary changes and they didn’t work.

    • KarnaN


      My name is Karna Nau and I am the Director of Student Relations here at The Institute for the Psychology of Eating.
      This is a delicate area indeed, as you mention. There really is too much information out there supporting how food can act as medicine to say that there is no relationship between what you eat and your healing process. As always though, each person has a unique relationship with food, and what works for one person may not work for another. There can also be much trial and error associated with trying to find a diet that will support a specific condition, hence the frustration on your friend’s part. It’s always hard when a loved one we know is going through a disease and you know that diet changes would be helpful for them. Sometimes, despite out best efforts, we have to accept that each person is on their own soul journey and they have something important to learn through their experience. I would suggest that you not put too much attention being concerned about these ideas being transferable in some way to people with serious illnesses in which some foods might make them much more ill. We can’t force people to do a diet strategy that they’re not truly inspired or called to do. And, it might be beneficial to put your friend in touch with a coach or professional that can be a support for her in making dietary changes if she is willing to look at the foods she eats.

      I hope this helps,


    • Ryan

      Hi VSB –

      I would say that the ideas Marc talks about here are absolutely pertinent to your friends health, at least in some ways. The mind is incredibly powerful and and has a profound effect on our health and quality of life. There isn’t anyone who can’t benefit from having less negative thoughts and more positive thoughts. That being said, it’s certainly not always simple, and takes a lot of time and effort to change habitual thought patterns, and may not be enough to cure your friend. Being armed with the information Marc has shared, though, could certainly have a positive impact on her life in some ways.

      I am a firm believer that no single idea when if comes to food and nutrition is the answer on it’s own. It’s our ability to constantly integrate all the information into wisdom. Eating healthy, whole foods and thinking positively while eating these foods will definitely be better than thinking positively while eating a happy meal.

      I just happen to be reading a book right now that I would highly recommend your friend, you, and everyone read. It’s by Mark Hyman, M.D. (who took part in the Psychology of Eating Conference that the good folks here at the IPE just put on) and it’s called The UltraMind Solution – Fix Your Broken Brain by Healing Your Body First. The premise is that every single one of us has a body and a brain that are functioning below capacity – weather mildly or extremely. A diagnosed disease would be an extreme example, and this could be thought to be a disease of the brain or the body. His bottom line is that it all starts in the body, and that there are seven key areas that need to be addressed, no matter who you are, to achieve optimum wellness. This almost all revolves around nutrition and is completely holistic in approach. He also stresses that each person is different and requires a different nutritional program based on their unique individual needs. It’s pretty much the most astonishing and hopeful thing I’ve read by anyone who works in mainstream medicine (he’s a Harvard trained MD). He’s apparently cured a number of supposedly incurable ailments with this system (now known as Functional Medicine) including completely curing children with autism. He also says that diseases per se don’t actually exist in the solid way we think they do – they are just extreme symptoms of various root causes, which modern medicine has so named in order to keep things simple when it comes to treating with pharmaceutical drugs. It’s all part of the broken system. A single “disease” could actually have huge numbers of completely different root causes in different people with the “disease”, and a similar root cause could actually cause many different symptoms in different people. That’s why it makes no sense to just name a disease, lump everyone with that label into one group, and treat them with the same few chemical pharmaceuticals.

      Anyway, I really think this is an extremely important book and could do a lot of good for anyone wanting to start healing themselves.

      All the best,

  • Each article you write provides wonderful insight. To become cognizant how the parasympathetic stimulation of “rest-and-digest” factors into relaxation, acceptance and positive thinking was another article I enjoyed. “Guilt-food—Shame-body—Judgment-health” clearly play a role in brain chemistry and biochemical responses. Showing a relationship between the sympathetic and parasympathetic, and how they partner with other brain areas affecting digestion and metabolism is so important in the healing process.
    Learning to not judge what we eat or feel guilty about eating the “wrong foods” brings us to a place of self-acceptance. In my practice, learning to love ourselves and to listen to our own body wisdom we become mindful of our thoughts, behaviors and choices.
    With appreciation, thank you!
    Alice Anne

    • Marc David


      Thank you for your kind words. I am so glad to hear that this body of knowledge is resonating so deeply with you and that you are able to implement pieces of it into your own life and practice – how inspiring! May you continue to touch lives and help people awaken…

      Marc David

  • Gayle Bookout

    Great article. I have taken your Food Psychology Coaching course and it has really helped me and my clients! I am new to this group so if you have already written on this, please excuse me… but can you tell us more about how what is called Stress Eating or Emotional Eating affects our CNS? A lot of my weight loss clients tell me they can’t lose weight because they eat more when they are stressed out. And for people who practically live in chronic stress, what advise can you give to them that will help them lose the weight they have gained by emotional eating?

    • KarnaN

      Hi Gayle,

      Karna here from IPE. We are so happy to hear that the course was beneficial for you! Its very motivating to know that we are affecting lives in a positive way. In regard to your question about emotional eating, Marc has written some amazing blogs on this topic that may be helpful for you:

      The Stress- Metabolism Connection ( )
      Emotion Eating – Is it really a problem ( ).

      I also highly recommend reading Marc’s bestselling book The Slow Down Diet that has much information about how the stress response affects our Central Nervous System as well as the stress – weight gain connection.
      You can purchase it here:
      I hope that these help. Keep up the great work you’re doing in the world.

  • Everything on this site speaks directly to me!
    And this article just makes me SO happy to read, and makes SO much sense.
    Thank you for all that you’re doing!!!

    • Lindsay Young

      Hi Jessica –

      Lindsay here at IPE. Thank you for your kind words!
      We are thrilled that you find this information useful.

  • Freida

    The concept presented here is interesting and intuitively credible, but absolutely no evidence is presented to back up the claims made in this article. I cannot buy into the premeses presented here when theyhave been left completely unsupported.

    • KarnaN

      Hi Freida,

      I agree that it’s a fascinating article! For more information on this topic, including the scientific references here below, please read Marc’s book the Slow Down Diet.
      We suggest that you purchase the book so you can see all the references. You can find a link to purchase it here:

      1. Ernest Rossi, The Psychobiology of Mind-Body Healing (New York: Norton, 1986). This book offers some excellent science, insight, and diagrams regarding the mind-body connection.
      2. J. W. Fielding, “Adjunct Chemotherapy in Operable Gastric Cancer,” World Journal of Surgery 7, no. 3 (1983)
      3. “Placebo – The Hidden Asset in Healing” in Investigations, Institute of Noetic Sciences Research Bulletin 2, no. 14 (1985).
      4. D. S. Moore, Statistics: Concepts and Controversies (New York: Freeman, 1995).
      5. S B. Penick “The effect of expectation on response to phenmetrazine,” Psychosomatic Medicine 26, no.4 (1964).
      6. Kenneth Cooper, The Antioxidant Revolution (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1994).

      Thank you.
      Karna Nau
      Director of Student Relations
      Work # 303-440-7642

  • Maria

    Very interesting article.

    I read a similar article many years ago, way before the internet. From what I recollect is that if you eat a food in which you have a negative perception or belief of, then it will have a negative or toxic effect on your body.

    I always felt guilty about having the occasional treat, which is counter-productive because a treat should be enjoyed. Next time I’m not going to feel guilty but enjoy every morsel of that ice cream.

    Many thanks for posting this.

    • Hi Maria —

      Thank you for sharing this! You are so welcome.
      It’s important that we not only listen to our body’s desire for food, but also its request for a proper uplifting relationship with food as well.
      Good for you!

      Marc David

  • Thea

    Has anyone else read “Dying to be Me” by A Moorjani? It’s wonderful for many reasons, and specifically what she discovered about food. She said before she got cancer, she says “I was paranoid about what I ate… strict vegetarian, only organic foods, vitamin supplements, wheatgrass… I used to eat very healthfully, but did so out of fear. Now I eat whatever I am drawn to.” (pg 182)
    She was Hindu raised in Hong Kong. When she first learned she had cancer, she looked into Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and western naturopathic systems. She said each system espoused a different, conflicting truth, which only added fear.

    • Hi Thea,

      Thank you for sharing this perspective. I’m not familiar with the book but what a fascinating confirmation of these ideas: fear is quite indigestible.

      This is why it is so important for us to become an expert in ourselves. This is not to say that the medical communities (traditional and alternative) have no good to offer – but: we also have to become fluent in our language, and be able to feel into the cues and hints that our bodies are employing to get our attention.

      Marc David

  • Yuliya

    That is an interesting article. However I do have a question – how come even those who do not feel guilty about eating anything still gain weight? You mentioned that “inhibitory signals in the nervous system can decrease your calorie-burning efficiency via increased insulin and cortisol, which would cause you to store more of your guilt-infused ice cream as body fat.” That makes sense, but still, people who have no bad thoughts about the food they eat and who enjoy every bite of it without talking down on themselves, still gain as much weight as people who feel guilty… I am curious to hear your thoughts on that.

    thank you for interesting article!

    • Hi Yuliya –

      Great Question. I was trying to point out that guilt, anxiety, shame, and various negative emotions can have a metabolic effect on the body and cause weight gain via the stress response and its associated chemistry. However, this does not mean that if one had none of these emotions that one would still not gain weight. It all depends on each individual eater, their diet, lifestyle, health, age, meal timing, amount of food eaten, exercise frequency, macronutrient balance, and so many other factors that mix together to determine our weight.

      I hope this clears things up.

      Marc David

  • Ryan

    As always, great essay, Marc.

    The one thing I thought as I read this was that the best thing we can do is to combine our intentions, motivations, and knowledge (as we continue to learn from blogs like this as well as all kinds of other sources for nutritional science/spirituality) with our actions, as well as be conscious of what’s going on in our heads. As always, everything is intertwined in the web of life, on every level. We definitely want to increase our positive thinking, but by having the intention and motivation to want to do what’s right, or good, or better, for our bodies/minds/spirits, and by extension the mind/body/spirit of every other living thing and the planet at large, we will increasingly make better choices for ourselves, having, in the process, powerfully positive thoughts about our actions. The fact that we are alive, are able to think about these things and guide our actions in ways that are also positive is incredibly uplifting and inspiring.

    Once we know that ice cream, as an example, can be fairly bad for us (obviously quantity, quality, and the individual consuming it are all key factors), and we really care about what we put into our bodies, and why we put it into our bodies, we may have a harder and harder time completely over-riding negative thoughts when we eat ice cream. (I know this happens to me – even though I do so enjoy it, part of my enjoyment is the total escape it brings me, and a numbing of my pain, which doesn’t help me in the long run.) There’s other factors as well, as we become more conscious, such as where the food comes from, how it’s made, what the companies who make this particular product stand for, etc.. The more conscious we become, the more all the interconnecting factors come into play when we eat. In the process, at least from my experience, it becomes harder to “take a break” or “treat ourselves” to foods that we know don’t serve our, and the planet’s, health and higher purpose. Of course, there are people who don’t think of any of these things, but even they will suffer. Ignorance does not appear to be bliss. As I just learned during the Psychology of Eating Conference in the excellent interview with John Robbins (son of the Mr. Robbins who owned and operated the Baskin Robbins empire), his father was in complete denial that ice cream could be bad for anyone’s health right up until the time when it almost killed him!! (Granted, maybe he was thinking stressful thoughts when eating his ice cream, like “OMG, my bowl of ice cream is almost done and I just started!!”) My point here is that I don’t think the placebo effect will always occur, and for placebos to work, they are usually administered without the person knowing they have a placebo. If you know that eating ice cream has some negative effects on your health, it’s hard to forget that information completely as you eat ice cream, meaning it’d be pretty hard to create the placebo effect, and by extension it’s hard not to suffer some repercussions either emotionally or physically, or both (again, this is my experience).

    So, there are many factors involved in getting ourselves to the point where we optimally align our minds/thoughts with our eating, but certainly in my opinion the core factor (as with almost anything) is LOVE. Personally, I don’t think that thinking is at all necessary when eating, but feeling is, and love is the optimal feeling. Thoughts are obviously very hard to control, though, so it is nice if our thinking tends towards the positive with relation to our eating, and the more all of our thoughts and actions with regard to eating stem from love, the more those thoughts will be positive. In other words, I think it’s much easier to have positive thoughts while eating when our action to eat is backed by some knowledge and positive intention.

    It would make me a little unhappy to think that people might spend energy trying to control their thoughts around eating ice cream (or whatever it is) as opposed to continuing to get themselves to the point where they don’t (or very rarely) eat ice cream because the love they have for themselves (and all other sentient beings and the planet) is so much greater than any fleeting pleasure they could get from ice cream. That being said, we all slip from time to time, and it is so very important to be compassionate with ourselves when we do. If we stop loving ourselves when we make a mistake, a bump in the road can turn into more of a wall!

    So, while I think it is very important to be aware of our thoughts with regard to eating, and pretty much everything else, it’s also important to be aware of what this part plays in the bigger picture, and where we’re trying to get individually and collectively. Why do we continue to learn about all these health issues, food issues, nutrition etc. and try to implement them in our lives? Because we love ourselves, we love life, and we want to do good for ourselves and our planetary family. So, we continue to learn and do our best to implement our new knowledge in positive and beneficial ways. That’s amazing! Every time we consciously align our actions with what we feel/think to be good and true, we will have a flow of positive thoughts when we eat.

    I am learning how important intention is. If any of us were asked what our intentions are when it comes to eating (I’m referring to people visiting this site, and many others, but unfortunately not enough of us yet), I have a strong feeling that our intentions would come from the energy of love at their core. So, I think it is very important for us to take some time to formulate our intentions from time to time – which would involve thinking – and then work on guiding our actions around food to align with these intentions. Finding our intentions around food may involve us asking ourselves why we want to nourish ourselves, why we want to be as healthy as we can be, why we would rather eat organic and/or local food, and whatever other questions we think could be relevant to understanding our intentions and actions around food. Digging deep is good. I think this process can be very powerful and will increasing lead to feelings of love or positive thought or both when eating. It also adds rich dimensions to our lived experience and can be very empowering. As Marc always points out, physical food is only one part of the equation when it comes to nourishing the body, mind and soul.

    So, that’s my two cents. Thank you, Marc, for inspiring this rather long comment! This just blazed out of me after reading your essay, and is only meant to add to what was already very nutritious food for thought. Every once in a while I get overcome with the desire to share my particular point of view (and this is not even mine, really, just my brains processing and understanding of the amazing thoughts of many minds, past and present). I find myself becoming increasingly passionate about nutrition and am completely inspired by my ever deepening understanding of how the issue of nutrition and food is central to our individual and collective spiritual journeys. I am very grateful for this site and all the work you and your colleagues do and will definitely be working to integrate this wealth of knowledge to further heal myself, others and the planet.

    Happy eating to all,

    • Jonathan

      Thank you for your beautiful opinion on the question, I really enjoyed reading it 🙂
      It is not every day that you come across someone that write interesting comment like you did.

  • Charlotte

    Hi everyone,
    Love the article and your whole approach! Just wondering about the implications of other people’s thoughts on the nutrition of our food or how we metabolize food?

    thank you!


    • Hi Charlotte,

      Thanks so much for your kind words – that’s a great question —
      And I want to open it up: What do you think? Thanks for a good conversation starter!


  • Desdemona

    I love this article. I have thought for a while that there has to be some sort of placebo effect with food. If you browse around blogs of any strict food plan that people follow because it’s suppose to make them healthier you will see plenty of, “this diet is perfect I feel so much better!” stories. People losing all kinds of bad health side effects, etc. Since it doesn’t make a lot of since that both vegan and paleo are both the perfect food diet there has to be something else in play. This would explain why each of these diets has followers who truley love/believe in their diet and feel massively better overall. They have very positive feelings about their diet of choice. These same diets also don’t work for others, maybe others who just don’t believe as strongly.

    This won’t be the only factor of course, but I woudl bet money that it is a big factor in many.

    • Hi Desdemona,

      Thank you for reaching out and sharing your thoughts!


  • d

    I think this is a very interesting concept. I think that this might relate to a concept I often think of. For some people eating is very mental, while for others it is purely physical. I think that these ‘mental’ or emotional eaters have negative feelings toward their food as you mentioned. I think they think of food in a very emotional manner and therefore do not stop eating when they are full. Conversely, physical eaters do not attach emotions to their food and therefore stop eating when they are full – and have only positive or no feelings toward their food.

    • Very interesting idea, d. — thank you for sharing your insights! The more we are in tune with the signals our bodies send us, and the less we interpret or judge those physical signals, the easier it is to stop eating when we are full. Warm regards, Marc

  • Sara Dawn Chandon

    This is completely accurate. As someone who is both a health care professional, and in the healing arts, I can attest to these statements. It is however, important to note the level of “releasing resistance” which must first occur for acceptance to truly be gained. While this research should inspire a hopeful attitude within, you must become your own alchemist to achieve the benefits which can be reached through this phenomenon, and thus omit negative side effects. Know where you are vibrationally –> spiritually –> mentally –> emotionally. Become your own master, and trust in the journey getting there.

    It is not as far out a concept as it may seem to some, it is merely the quantum workings which have always existed, but may seem far a stretch for those believing in a linear, 3D universe.


    • Thank you for your comments, Sara! I appreciate your message, and I’m glad you’re part of our online community 🙂 Warmly, Marc

  • Sounds a lot like psychoneuroendocrinology. One of the most fascinating subjects I can think of. Very good eye opening article.

    • Thanks for your great feedback Ryan! So glad you enjoyed the article. Thanks for being part of our community 🙂 Warmly, Marc

  • honey

    As a person in my early twenties, I have been battling with binge eating and extremely negative thoughts about food and my nutritional habits for years. Recently it has gotten even worse, where I will go as far as to take laxatives regularly or make myself vomit — both a reaction from the guilt and disgust I feel after binge eating. I have been looking for articles like yours for months…thank god I finally came across them.

    • Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing about your journey. We’re glad you found us, too! If you have any questions for us, you an always contact us at We’re wishing you the very best! Warmly, Marc

  • Nicole

    Excited to read more of your articles! This one is fascinating! I have always known my emotions have controlled most of what I eat. I’m excited to finally gain control over my eating habits.

    • So glad you enjoyed this article and found it helpful, Nicole! Warmly, Marc David

  • Pat

    Hi Marc,

    Really great article – always enjoy reading your work.

    Would you be able to quote the studies/research behind this:
    “If you’re feeling guilty about eating the ice cream or judging yourself for eating it, the hypothalamus will take this negative input and send signals down the sympathetic fibers of the autonomic nervous system. This initiates inhibitory responses in the digestive organs, which means you’ll be eating your ice cream but not fully metabolizing it. It may stay in your digestive system longer, which can diminish your population of healthy gut bacteria and increase the release of toxic by-products into the bloodstream. Furthermore, inhibitory signals in the nervous system can decrease your calorie-burning efficiency via increased insulin and cortisol, which would cause you to store more of your guilt-infused ice cream as body fat. So the thoughts you think about the food you eat instantly become reality in your body via the central nervous system.”
    Particularly about how the healthy bacteria gets diminished – would it rather not result in an imbalance of bacteria than the healthy bacteria diminishing? And could you explain the statement about insulin & cortisol given that they are counter-regulatory hormones?

    Looking forward to hearing from you and for the references!

    Best regards

  • Hi Jake, thanks so much for your thoughtful response. We agree that the mind and thoughts can hold many unknown possibilities, and we’re excited to witness more research surfacing on this topic. We appreciate your sharing! Warmly, Marc

  • Kathy Dobson

    Honestly, as a student of metaphysical works, this article is target on! Ultimately the real power for anything lies within us. This also explains why my dad lived until he was 90 years old and dies peacefully in his sleep (without being sick!)…His favorite aisle in the store was the candy aisle …however he balanced it with healthy meals. Never did a negative thought enter his mind about candy or his ice cream being bad for him He thoroughly enjoyed every bit and it showed in his health. This man was only in the hospital one time in his entire life (for something minor). I believe it was his gentle, loving spirit that embraced all things that had more to do with the healthy life he was gifted with and the peaceful way he passed than any food he ate. This also explains why foods react differently in each of us. In the end, its how we define our foods that dictate their relationship with our bodies! Thank you so much for this article!! As James Allen states: “As a man thinketh…so is he!”

    • Hi Kathy! We’re so glad you connected with the article! What a wonderful story about your dad. It sounds like he was a pretty special person who set a powerful example. Thanks for sharing!

      Warm regards,
      IPE Team

  • Hi Lynda! We really appreciate you sharing and are so sorry to hear about some of the messages others have been sending your son about food. He is very lucky to have you as his advocate so that he can also become his own best advocate. That’s the best you can do sometimes. Encourage him, model a healthy relationship with food, and don’t be afraid to set verbal boundaries with others about commenting on food and body to your son. We wish you all the best!
    The IPE Team

  • K Bullen

    Thank you for this! I go to Graf Stress Management. Have for years and he has been teaching me the very basic idea of this concept since I was little, but even with that guidance I still get pulled about by all of the input I get telling me this or that is bad for me or why I have a problem. I really wanted to buckle down and get a positive thought process on food, once and for all, and now I found this website. I am excited to have a more in depth resource with all of the thought and logic behind it to help me really start to apply this principle more fully in my life. I want to enjoy food for the right reasons and stop shaming myself! Thank you!

    • Hi Kristine!
      Thanks so much for your comment and for taking the time to read the article. We are so glad it resonated with you. Let us know if you have any questions as you dive deeper into this work. 🙂
      The IPE Team

  • Kristine Džigure

    This was truly great. In a way so simple and logical but also challenging. Definitely something to practice with every meal

    • We are so glad this was helpful, Kristine. And a great insight that it can definitely be a practice!

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.