Dr Judith Orloff's Blog

The Energy of Food: A Missing Piece in Weight Loss

Judith Orloff - Friday, December 10, 2010

As a psychiatrist I know that there is more to overeating and obesity than meets the eye. Genetics play a role, as do hormonal and psychological triggers. However, one big reason that many diets fail is that traditional weight-loss programs don't factor in how we process energy.

Sensitive people, whom I call emotional empaths in my book "Emotional Freedom," unknowingly overeat in response to being overwhelmed by stress, anxiety or negativity. Empaths are extremely sensitive and become an emotional sponge for the stress of the world -- they absorb it into their bodies. If this is you, the following information will be helpful. (To find out if you are an empath, take the "empath quiz" in my companion blog, "Are You An Emotional Empath?")

Here's the energetic theory of obesity: When empaths are thin, they have less padding, are more vulnerable to absorbing stress. Early-twentieth-century faith healers were renowned for being grossly obese to avoid taking on their patients' symptoms, a common trap I've seen modern healing practitioners also unconsciously fall into; food is a grounding device. Similarly, many of my patients gain weight to protect against stress at home or at work. Energy is at the root of an empath's hunger. Try these strategies from my book "Positive Energy" to cope with the energy of stress without abusing food.

Interventions to Halt Energetic Eating

When the impulse to overeat hits:

  1. Discern addictive craving from a true need.
  2. Addictive craving, a symptom of nutritional abuse, is a frequent response to energetic overload. Here, you eat certain foods addictively; this leads to obesity. Whenever you keep lusting after sweets and carbs, be suspicious. With cravings, you eat to relieve stress, not to build energy. Try to identify addictive foods and limit them.

    With a true nutritional need there's no lusting after food to guard against stress. A true need comes from a centered place, not from self-medicating emotions with comfort foods or obsession. Feeling healthily nurtured from food never involves mood swings -- sedation or elation -- but rather an even feeling of satisfaction. A true need lets you enjoy your meal, optimizes energy and doesn't lead to obesity.

  3. Quickly pinpoint energetic triggers of addictive cravings.
  4. Immediately ask yourself: "Was I exposed to stress?" It could have been an obnoxious neighbor or phone messages from your mother. Don't write off the "smaller" incidents, which notoriously send empaths motoring to the refrigerator. Don't panic. Pinpoint cause and effect. Clear it quickly once you've been slimed.

  5. Breathe stress out of your system.
  6. Take a five-minute break for damage control. Slowly inhale and exhale. Breath activates your calming endorphins (natural painkillers) and releases stress from the body. Practice this visualization: Just as your lungs take in oxygen and expel toxic carbon dioxide, breathe in peacefulness and clarity, breathe out stress. Breathe in vitality. Breathe out fear. Repeat this exercise until you feel calmer.

  7. Try a three-minute meditation.
  8. Another way to calm yourself before you run to the refrigerator is with a three-minute meditation. I recommend keeping a meditation cushion in front of the refrigerator to remind yourself to meditate before opening the door.

  9. Set healthy limits and boundaries.
  10. With stressful people, limit the time you spend listening to them, and learn how to say "no." Remember, "no" is a complete sentence.

  11. Take a bath or shower.
  12. A speedy way to dissolve stress is to immerse yourself in water. My tub is my refuge after a busy day; it washes away everything from bus exhaust to long hours of air travel to personal unpleasantness.

  13. Eat with attunement.
  14. Develop a diet that satisfies your energetic needs. Let energy motivate why you eat; it's more important than taste or dietary dogma. Whatever you put in you mouth that is healthy, run it by your energy meter; see what truly nourishes or depletes. For instance, does chicken give you more energy than fish? Tomatoes more than carrots? You must test out foods in your body. Even foods you've shunned become more attractive when your experience their energy lift.

  15. Visualize a protective barrier around yourself.

Research has shown that visualization is a potentially healing mind/body technique.

Food is no place to be passive. The interventions I'm recommending in this blog will allow you to take an active stance in eating healthfully. You don't have to let stress lodge itself in you. To stay on top of your eating, do a daily check-in. Stay alert for cravings prompted by energetic triggers. Watch your responses. I promise, your eating habits will change.



Judith Orloff, MD is author of The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People, upon which her articles are based. Dr. Orloff is a psychiatrist, an empath, and is on the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Faculty. She synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. Dr. Orloff also specializes in treating empaths and highly sensitive people in her private practice. Dr. Orloff’s work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, the Oprah Magazine and USA Today. She is a New York Times best-selling author of Emotional Freedom, The Power of Surrender, Second Sight, Positive Energy, and Guide to Intuitive Healing. Connect with Judith on  Facebook and  Twitter. To learn more about empaths and her free empath support newsletter as well as Dr. Orloff's books and workshop schedule, visit her website.

Star commented on 10-Aug-2011 09:33 AM
Short, sweet, to the point, FREE-eaxctly as information should be!
Younghee commented on 20-Sep-2011 11:35 AM
Thank you Dr. Judith! I have your book and it is wonderful. You are so graceful and beautiful!! Thank you for your loving intention to everyone... Love & Light
Hannelore Devlin commented on 28-Nov-2011 03:52 PM
Thank you so much, very helpful advice and I'm rereading your book and listening to your cd again for the third time as it so speaks to me.
Gabriel commented on 29-Nov-2011 02:21 PM
Dr.Judith Orloff. Very good morning, good!. His advice, guides are wonderful jewels of knowledge, totally practical and very effective, with a solid scientific base offers you with great dedication and love. Thank you very much.
Anne Vaa Lillehaug commented on 02-Mar-2012 04:01 AM
Great to listen and read DR. Judith Orloff, I take it with me in my job and life. Thank's!
Addie Kania commented on 12-Apr-2012 11:06 AM
Love your book, Dr. Orloff! Thank you so much for your enlightening insights. As a Hypnotherapist dealing with weight loss, many sensitives and psychics are very heavy-as they misinterpret their instinctive need to be protected and insulate themselves
by the layers of weight rather then "energetic food choices" and protective energy meditative practices. Be well-there is only One of you! Addie Kania Holistic Hypnotherapist
travelling dream commented on 29-Jun-2012 12:42 AM
Thank you for this great information, you write very well which i like very much. I am really impressed by your post.
travelling dream commented on 29-Jun-2012 12:43 AM
Thank you for this great information, you write very well which i like very much. I am really impressed by your post.
Rylan Mede commented on 20-Nov-2012 06:03 PM
I am not sure Judith, you sad in your post that emotional people when they get stressed they tend to go to food as some kind of relive and therefore they gain weight as a result. That’s not always true because I know some people who when they get stressed they don’t eat and therefore they turn anorexic. So am not sure if we can generalize stress with weight gain and associate them that strongly and exclusively.
lucy sue commented on 03-Dec-2015 08:05 PM
I am an sensitive empath and over weight. I have lost 30 lbs and hope to loose a lot more. One thing I have been asking my self is, will this food i'm dreaming about make me happy? No, it will keep me fat. So I have had success at stopping the binge and regaining my equilibrium. Also I have been breathing with my diaphragm and exhailing and holding in my stomach and I feel much better. It helps my migraines, too.

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