trapped emotions

How Trapped Emotions Can Affect Cravings, Emotional Eating, and Weight

May 3, 2021

How Trapped Emotions Work and How to Manage Them

It might sound strange, but our cravings and emotional eating can actually be a blessing in disguise. If we’re struggling to lose the weight and keep it off, there is likely something deeper going on, possibly trapped emotions.  And if we truly listen to what our bodies are telling us, there is great hope for healing.

For example, a new client, “Susan” (not her real name), recently shared that she had always struggled with chocolate cravings. She knew she used chocolate to soothe and comfort herself, but recently her cravings had gotten much worse. She tried not to have it in the house, but with the various holidays, it was everywhere. 

Working together, we discovered Susan had a strong emotional connection to chocolate. As a child, she was often given chocolate whenever she was upset. Whether it was being teased at school, not making the team, or a breakup with a boyfriend, chocolate was always there for her.

Each and every time my client was given chocolate, her brain made the connection: 
Chocolate = Calm and Happy.

What Susan didn’t know was that she also had some trapped emotions of panic and fear that were triggering her cravings. With all that is going on in the world right now, her fears were magnified, and so was her emotional eating. She wanted to be calm and happy!

We Are Constantly Experiencing Emotions

As humans, we are constantly experiencing emotions, some good and some not so good.

According to Dr. Bradley Nelson, author of the Emotion Code, three things happen when we experience an emotion. 

  • First, our body generates the emotional vibration. 
  • Second, we begin to feel the emotion and any thoughts or physical sensations that come along with it. 
  • Third, we choose to let the emotions go and we move on.

Moving On From The Emotional Experience

This last step is called processing. Once it’s complete, we're able to move on from the emotional experience, and it shouldn’t cause us any problems.  However, if either the second or third step is interrupted, the emotional experience is incomplete, and the energy of the emotion is likely to become trapped in the body.

As a young child, Susan was not allowed to feel her emotions or express them. Children were to be seen and not heard. In fact, she quickly learned that speaking up wasn’t safe. As a result, she became a master at quietly stuffing her emotions. 

Decades later, these emotions are still stored in her body. During stressful times these emotions show up in full force, causing her to crave even more chocolate to soothe herself. 

Of course, this is sabotaging her weight loss efforts. No matter how hard she tries, she hasn’t been able to keep the weight off. In fact, each time she’s been close to her goal weight, the pounds start creeping back on. 

So what the heck is going on?

It’s A Matter Of Safety

For Susan, and for many others, it’s a matter of safety. 

Maybe people don’t feel safe at a lower weight because they will be more “visible.”  In essence, a larger body keeps them safe from unwanted attention.

Others are afraid of letting go of the comfort foods that have always been there for them. How on earth will they soothe themselves or tranquilize painful emotions without their treats?

Or perhaps the extra weight is acting like a “wall,” protecting them from getting hurt again, physically or emotionally.

To help you determine if feeling unsafe is an issue for you when it comes to weight loss, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Was there a time in your life when you gained a significant amount of weight?
  • When was the last time you were at your ideal body weight?
  • What was going on in your life at that time?
  • If you got to your goal weight who would notice?  What would their reaction(s) be?
  • If you try to imagine yourself at your goal weight, what negative emotions do you feel?

If you’ve had experiences in your life that cause you to feel unsafe, you likely felt emotions such as fear, panic, or lack of control. And if you weren’t able to process these feelings, there’s a good chance you stored them as energy in the form of trapped emotions.

In an effort to keep you safe, this emotional baggage often works behind the scenes, sabotaging your weight loss efforts and keep you from reaching your ideal body weight.
And while this may sound like bad news, the good news is that there is hope!

The Good News!

Once you know recognize the role that trapped emotions can play when it comes to emotional eating and weight, you can release them.  Mind-body energy healing techniques such as EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) tapping and the Emotion Code are two of the best modalities I know of to help with this. 

EFT tapping is great for decreasing the emotional intensity of whatever issue has caused the upset. 

For example, it’s often used to help veterans who suffer from PTSD. It’s also widely used to stop cravings and emotional eating. In addition, its effectiveness for decreasing feelings of anxiety is documented in scientific journals. 

EFT involves tapping or pressure on certain acupressure points on the body, which sends calming signals to your brain. The part of your brain that receives this signal is called the amygdala. 

Once it receives the signal to be calm, it sends this message to your hypothalamus, which then lets the rest of the body know that it’s okay to get out of fight-or-flight mode. I use this technique nearly every day for better peace of mind, especially during difficult times.

The Emotion Code

The other modality I love is The Emotion Code. The Emotion Code combines two important elements: intention and the ancient principles of Chinese Medicine. Once you identify a trapped emotion, there is an easy-to-follow technique that helps you release this energy from your body. Letting go of this emotional baggage feels great! 

Also, releasing trapped emotions may facilitate physical and emotional balance in your mind and your body so you can live a healthier and happier life.

To learn more about how trapped emotions can contribute to cravings, emotional eating, and weight issues, you can watch my interview with Dr. Bradley Nelson, author of The Emotion Code.

Whatever method you choose to be free from your emotional baggage it’s absolutely worth it… and so are you!

trapped emotions
Karen Donaldson


Karen Donaldson, MS, RD, LD of EXCEL Weight Loss Solutions, specializes in helping people stop their cravings and emotional eating so they can lose the weight and keep it off. She is a Registered Dietitian, EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Certified Weight Loss Coach, and an Emotion Code Certified Practitioner.
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