Weight Gain and Trauma: Is There a Connection? Video with Emily Rosen

Conventional wisdom tells us that we gain weight only when we take in more calories than we use up in our day to day activities and exercise routines. But as today’s research clearly shows, there are many more reasons why the body may hang on to unwanted excess weight, and these reasons often have more to do with human psychology than with any nutritional formula. In this eye-opening new video from #IPEtv, Emily Rosen, Director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, explores the connections between traumatic childhood experiences and adult obesity. You’ll discover how and why the body can respond to trauma with weight gain, and you’ll also learn some innovative ways to help your body let go of what it no longer needs.

In the comments below, please let us know your thoughts. We love hearing from you and we read and respond to every comment!

Here is a transcript of this week’s video:

Hi, I’m Emily Rosen, Director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.

Today we’re going to talk about Weight Gain and Trauma

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study was one of the largest studies on the long-term effects of childhood trauma. They found that there was a strong and direct link between early childhood traumatic experiences and addiction, mood disorders, health issues of all kinds, and high-risk behavior. The more traumatic experiences someone had, the greater correlation to health problems and addictions. This may come as no surprise to many. But is there a link between weight gain and trauma?

The simple answer is YES.

A 2007 study in Pediatrics journal found that girls who were sexually abused were twice as likely to be obese by age 24. For some, however, sexual, emotional, or physical trauma can lead to eating disorders without any significant weight gain.

For those with trauma histories, weight gain can be the result of high amounts of cortisol in the body, and a function of a psychological boundary that the body creates when the conscious mind cannot directly address a traumatic issue. For one person, weight can represent a barrier to unwanted sexual attention. For another person, weight can signify that they matter and deserve to be seen. For others still, weight can be a way to feel less vulnerable to physical or emotional attacks. For people with weight gain and trauma, it can be important to understand how to resolve the trauma that the body may be holding.

Once there’s an understanding of where it comes from, we can increase functioning and achieve balance of weight and stress hormones.

Many trauma experts will tell you that trauma is not necessarily what happens to you; it’s what gets stuck in your nervous system as the result of a lack of resources to properly digest the experience. In other words, trauma is not just what comes in; it’s the lack of ability to get it out of our nervous systems.

Trauma doesn’t have to dictate a lifetime of unwanted weight gain or misery.

The idea is that when we understand the underlying mechanism of the weight gain, we can more directly meet our needs. There is intelligence to the body holding weight as an unconscious boundary or protection. The body is simply trying to meet needs that our conscious minds may not know how to handle. When we can utilize adequate support and thank our bodies for holding a boundary we may not have known to set, we can start to take over that task consciously and relieve our bodies from that job.

Learning how to self-soothe and regulate our nervous systems in a constructive, rather than destructive, manner helps us to stay in our social engagement systems and out of the traumatic activation. Removing toxic relationships and limiting unnecessary stress is a good way to support our nervous systems to remain within a window of tolerance. Practicing good sleep hygiene and making sure we don’t take caffeine or stimulating substances before bedtime is another way to support our bodies toward balance. Seeing a therapist or coach, journaling, walking, doing yoga or other body-mind practices, taking baths, getting a massage from a trusted source, and eating nourishing foods are all ways to soothe constructively. As we do this, we may begin to eliminate the need for excess foods, and feed our psyches in a truly nourishing way…

I hope this was helpful.

To learn more about us please go to psychologyofeating.com.

The Institute for the Psychology of Eating offers the most innovative and inspiring professional trainings, public programs, conferences, online events and lots more in the exciting fields of Dynamic Eating Psychology and Mind Body Nutrition! In our premier professional offering – the Eating Psychology Coach Certification Training – you can grow a new career and help your clients in a powerful way with food, body and health. You’ll learn cutting edge skills and have the confidence to work with the most compelling eating challenges of our times: weight, body image, overeating, binge eating, digestion, fatigue, immunity, mood and much more. If you’re focused on your own eating and health, the Institute offers a great selection of one-of-a-kind opportunities to take a big leap forward in your relationship with food. We’re proud to be international leaders in online and live educational events designed to create the breakthroughs you want most. Our public programs are powerful, results oriented, and embrace all of who we are as eaters – body, mind, heart and soul. 

Please email us at info@psychologyofeating.com if you have specific questions and we will be sure to get back to you.

Again that is psychologyofeating.com.

This is Emily Rosen, Chief Operating Officer for the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.

Thanks so much for your time and interest!

To learn more about the breakthrough body of work we teach here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, please sign up for our free video training series at ipe.tips. You’ll learn about the cutting-edge principles of Dynamic Eating Psychology and Mind Body Nutrition that have helped millions forever transform their relationship with food, body, and health. Lastly, we want to make sure you’re aware of our two premier offerings. Our Eating Psychology Coach Certification Training is an 8 month distance learning program that you can take from anywhere in the world to launch a new career or to augment an already existing health practice. And Transform Your Relationship with Food is our 8 week online program for anyone looking to take a big leap forward with food and body.


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About The Author
Emily Rosen

Emily Rosen is the Director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, where she oversees business development strategies, student affairs, marketing and public relations in addition to her role as Senior Teacher. With an extensive and varied background in nutritional science, counseling, natural foods, the culinary arts, conscious sex education, mind body practices, business management and marketing, Emily brings a unique skill-set to her role at the Institute. She has also been a long-term director and administrator for Weight Loss Camps and Programs serving teens and adults and has held the position of Executive Chef at various retreat centers. Her passion for health and transformation has provided her the opportunity to teach, counsel, manage, and be at the forefront of the new wave of professionals who are changing the way we understand the science and psychology of eating and sexuality. Emily is also co -founder of the Institute for Conscious Sexuality and Relationship.