How Our Parents Can Unwittingly Cause Emotional Eating Problems

Most overeating is the result of emotional eating.  And a significant cause of all emotional eating is conditioning.  In other words, eating becomes a conditioned response to a number of triggers, such as loneliness, anxiety, depression, and feeling unlovable.  When those triggers appear in your life, you are conditioned to want to eat.

In addition, however, another important cause of overeating is beliefs, most of which were formed in childhood as a result of interactions with parents.

Here are just a few of the common things parents say and do that lead to beliefs that, in turn, lead to emotional eating.

  • “Finish everything on your plate (whether you are hungry or not).”
  • “It’s time to eat (whether you are hungry or not).”
  • “Don’t eat that or you’ll gain weight.”
  • “Good” foods and ”bad” foods.
  • “If you gain weight you won’t have any friends.”
  • “Shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” around food and eating.
  • Parents who are often on diets or who have an eating problem.

Which of these situations were present in your household?

Here are just a few of the possible beliefs that can result from this type of parental behavior and comment.

  • If I don’t control my eating I’ll put on weight.
  • The way to stay thin is to control my food and exercise a lot.
  • If I’m heavy I’ll be rejected.
  • I can’t trust my body (to tell me when to eat or stop eating).
  • I can’t trust myself to know how much to eat and when to eat.
  • The only way to know what and when to eat is to keep things the same.
  • If I look fat I’ll be rejected.
  • If I gain a few pounds it means I’m out of control.
  • My body is revolting. (One woman with this belief is 5’9” and weighs 110 pounds)
  • I need to exercise to deserve food.
  • I’m not deserving.
  • I have to be deserving to eat.
  • I’m a fake.
  • Sense of self: big, chunky, uncoordinated.
  • If I can’t eat “bad” foods, I’m missing out.
  • Bad” foods make you fat.
  • To lose weight you can’t eat anything “bad.”
  • The way to keep food from running my life (like it did my mom’s) is to eat whatever I want to eat.
  • If I don’t eat when there’s food around there won’t be any later.
  • The way to be in control is to eat what I want, when I want.
  • The way to keep from being hungry is to have a lot of food in the house.

Which of these beliefs did you form?

It is possible to permanently stop emotional eating by de-conditioning eating as the response to triggers and the desire for certain rewards, and by eliminating all the relevant beliefs.

For more details, please see my eBook, The Secret to Ending Your Overeating For Good, at

Copyright © 2011 Morty Lefkoe

9 thoughts on “How Our Parents Can Unwittingly Cause Emotional Eating Problems”

  1. Morty,
    I just figured out this week that I have trust issues regarding food; I believe it goes back to when I was nine years old and my mother served boiled onions as a vegetable. I sat at the table until all the dishes were cleared and washed and I finally ate them. Before that my mother made remarks about how little I was eating-according to her. “You eat like a canary” was her favorite. This trust issue also has permeated my life though I use the Occurring tools to lessen the impact. I am thirty five pounds overweight and one of my goals is to lose weight this year…
    Love and Light,

    1. Hi Lauren,

      The Occurring material should help but you if you are 35 pounds overweight you probably have a problem with emotional eating. In which case the Lefkoe Occurring Process will be insufficient to handle that issue.

      Have you see my eBook on that topic? If not go to

      If you’ve seen the book, you might want to have a few sessions to handle that issue once and for all.

      Love, Morty

  2. Dear Mr. Lefkoe, I have just read your free e-book about overeating problems and it was just so so insightful and eye-opening and therapeutic, thanks so much for all your incredible wholehearted and sincerest efforts to bring peace to human beings. May I ask if there are plans to perhaps write a full book on all possible or so far found triggers and rewards and limiting beliefs about eating disorders that one could work perhaps on himself completely with one’s given or chosen methods to release trapping energies? You might not have to give it out for free but perhaps for a certain price that you could also have extra financial energies flowing into your life. Sincerely Kathy

    1. Hi Kathy,

      I listed all the triggers and rewards I am aware of in the eBook. It is hard to list all the possible beliefs, because every time I work with a new client he/she identifies a few new beliefs.

      Although there might be a few beliefs that many clients share, there are are beliefs unique to each client.

      Love, Morty

  3. I also would quickly like to mention that I found all of your informations to be true considering my sleeping disorders. Sincerely Kathy

  4. What it really is, I think is that I find my self with certain options to comfort my triggers, either to eat or to sleep or to take warm showers and there might be a few more others if I would reflect longer but basically there are those there options between which I ‘choose’. Just some extra insights. Sincerely Kathy

  5. Hello Morty

    Thanks so much for your quick answer. It’s truly refreshing to get in contact with such a incredible sincere and responding fellow human being. May our Heavenly Father bless you greatly and may all of your efforts bring lots of healing to many. Sincerely Kathy

  6. Hi Morty, I am just under 5 foot tall, and as a child didn’t eat a lot – I was small! I remember weighing 3-stone, 3-lbs, and being promised a doll when I had put on a stone, to 4-stone, 3lbs. I don’t think I ever got the doll, but by puberty was slightly overweight at about 7-stone, 7-lbs. I was encouraged to eat so I would “grow up” tall like my brothers, and was dished up the same quantities of food as the boys (who are much taller than me). Portion size remains one of my big challenges. As the youngest, and a girl in the 1960s, I wanted to be treated as “grown up”. All I did was grow out. At 55 I’ve long since given up on my parents (now both 87) recognising I’m “grown up”. But now 22kgs (approx 50-lbs) over my ideal weight of 48kgs (100 lbs) I’ve a task ahead of me. That’s a third of me that has to disappear. I am still afraid of being overlooked, not being taken seriously, treated like a child, if I lose weight. Go figure! Thanks for helping me recognise why I still overeat, and for giving the opportunity to write this down.

Comments are closed.