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Is Your Inner Critic Causing Weight Gain?

If you struggle with your weight, you may have labeled yourself as “good” or “bad” based on the food you eat or your weight. That’s your inner critic talking!

You might say things like:

  • I was SO bad this week. I ate a ton of cookies.
  • I was really bad this week, I’m up a couple pounds.
  • I was so good this week, all I ate was vegetables.
  • I was good this week, I lost a pound.

It might seem like no big deal to talk like this about yourself, but the truth is that judging yourself as good or bad based on the food you eat, or the number on the scale, can sabotage your weight loss efforts.

Your Thoughts and Words Affect Your Emotions

Imagine yourself as a small child.

Next, imagine you just ate something that your adult self would consider “bad.” Maybe it was several cookies, or a bag of chips or a carton of ice cream.

Now, imagine your adult-self telling your child-self how “bad” she is. Go ahead and be a little harsh with your words. You might say things like:

  • Wow, I can’t believe you ate all that. You were pretty bad today.
  • Don’t you know you shouldn’t eat chocolate? What’s wrong with you?
  • You know you shouldn’t be eating that, right? It’s just going to show up on the scale.
  • You blew it. Why did you do that?

How did this make you feel? How did it make your child-self feel?

Chances are neither of you are feeling very good about this. You might feel sad, angry, ashamed and defensive. And you’re probably NOT inspired to eat a carrot right about now!

If you’re judging yourself as “bad” based on your food choices, either consciously or subconsciously, you’re likely stirring up some emotions that feel uncomfortable. The next thing you know you’re in the pantry or raiding the fridge, looking for “something” to help you feel better.

Your Emotions Also Affect Your Physical Body

In addition to feeling bad and causing you to eat to feel better, your emotions can also trigger what is called the stress response that causes you to gain weight.

Emotional stress affects your physiology by triggering the release of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. High levels of cortisol and adrenaline contribute to weight gain, digestive issues, memory and concentration problems, and anxiety.

I tell my clients that eating food under the influence of guilt and shame, which is what happens when you tell yourself you are “bad” because of your food choices, is a recipe for disaster.

The extra cortisol and adrenaline make it nearly impossible to lose weight and they actually cause weight gain.

How Can We Change This Behavior?

Doing the above visualization with your child-self gave you some valuable insight into how much your thoughts and words can affect your body and your ability to lose weight.

This is a great first step!

Now, let’s use some positive words so you can experience what it feels like to be more kind to yourself.

Try saying these positive phrases below, even if they don’t feel true just yet.

  • I’m a really good person, regardless of what I eat.
  • My food choices don’t define my worthiness.
  • Food is just food, and what I eat doesn’t make me good or bad.

What did you notice?

Maybe you felt peaceful. Or calm. Or loved.

Most likely you did not feel the same negative emotions you felt when you were being critical of yourself.

The truth is that you’ve got to silence your inner critic to lose weight. It takes some practice, but it’s definitely possible!

My clients who “turn off” their inner critic and “turn on” their inner coach are losing weight and you can do this too!

If you want to learn how to be your best inner coach so you can lose weight, watch this short 4-minute video.  


Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you always struggled to silence your inner critic? What does this voice tell you? Have you tried to be more kind to yourself?

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Thank you for this article. I am definitely a gal that has “bad/good” food days. Yes, I have gained weight -due to stress eating and boredom. Since I retired, I am focusing on getting out and doing more exercise. Slowly working on my bad/good food choices. Thanks again for the issues.

Karen Donaldson

Thanks Angie! I’m glad you are getting out more and doing more exercise – and working on those food choices. If I can be of help, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Many blessings, Karen

Joyce Zaid

I’m currently in a nursing/rehab center, and due to major stressors(physical (residual issues from ischemic stroke last June), mental(I have schizoaffective disorder depressive type), financial(had no insurance when I was admitted, have government coverage now, and was just terminated from my job which I had unpaid leave, due to Dr who works here not sending LOA forms to job HR person). I have gained around 40-45 lbs. I’m active(including PT&OT), on prescribed diet, and try to not stay in my room as struggling with isolation. The gain that came was definitely stress hormones. I don’t blame myself for getting larger, but so much since returning home from first hospital/rehab with NO in-home care due to having no coverage to pay for it, hence current hospital and rehab stay. This is NOT what I expected, but the reality right now.

Karen Donaldson

Hi Joyce. I am so sorry to hear you are struggling so much. I wish you the very best and hope that things turn around for you soon. Many blessings, Karen Donaldson

Karen Donaldson

For the link to watch my free training on how to stop emotional eating so you can lose the weight and keep it off go to

The Author

Karen Donaldson helps women 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, Emotion Code Certified Practitioner and a Weight Loss Mindset Expert. Learn more at

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