Posted by: Donna Cunningham | June 8, 2010

The Moon and Weight—Where Lunar Patterns fit In

©2010 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

For most of us, the family we grew up in greatly influenced our food preferences and eating habits. Most habits and feelings about food are learned so early that they’re are unconscious—Moon-related areas often are. Any suggested change in diet meets great resistance because of the emotional associations and the sense of security connected with food.

Some family therapists even observe family meals to diagnose family problems. What goes on at supper is a microcosm of the relationships and conflicts within the family. At this near‑ritual meal, children learn age and sex roles, what is expected of family members, what emotional expressions are permitted, and other values. Since such highly‑charged interaction occurs at the main meal of the day, it is not surprising to find food and feelings so intertwined.

 Holiday meals are a special case. The sign Cancer is greatly concerned with tradition, and the traditional holidays are times when we generally stuff ourselves. We either get together with family‑‑or else feel pain that there is no family to visit.

 Unpleasant memories and unresolved conflicts about family members and the past are evoked. The mountains of food so close at hand push feelings down. Holiday blues are commonplace and testify to our sorrow and rage over lunar losses.

The Moon rules instinct, and eating would be healthier if governed by instinct rather than poor family training. Most animals, if their owners haven’t hopelessly corrupted their diets, know what is good for them to eat and when they’ve had enough. A sick animal will not eat, but sick people are cajoled into eating when fasting might be better.

 Children are a born with sound food instincts. In one study, toddlers were given free choice of a range of foods. Their diet may not have been balanced on any one day, but over time it balanced out perfectly. Families teach children to override their instincts by forcing them to eat more than they want, to eat on schedule rather than when hungry, and to eat heavily sweetened processed foods.

 Research shows a definite connection between weight and family influence. A team at the University of Michigan took histories of nearly 3,000 children. The more overweight the parents were, the more likely the children would be overweight and the more overweight they were. Nearly 40 percent of children from obese families were obese, where only 15% would be by chance.

 The daughters were the most affected, which makes sense astrologically due to the Moon and the mother‑daughter bond. By age 17, if both parents were overweight, the daughters were more than seven times heavier than daughters of lean parents.[i] Severe obesity is apparently a recessive gene. That is, it has to exist on both sides of the family for it to be transmitted, and then you have just a one in four chance of inheriting it.[ii]

 If you have a weight problem, you may be saying, “Then it’s just my bad genes!” While not denying that heredity may play a role, the team also studied adopted children and found that those adopted by obese parents had the same tendency to obesity as those born into the family. Their pets even had a high rate of obesity.

 The Moon shows habits we learned early on that are tough to break. What these studies suggest is that overeating is a habit, a mechanism learned through exposure to parents who overate. The Moon rules emotions, and much serious overeating is a learned familial defense against unwelcome emotions.

(This is an excerpt from a longer chapter on food and weight in my out-of-print book, Being a Lunar Type in a Solar World from RedWheel/Weiser. That version and the revised edition, The Moon in your Life, may be available on Free Paperback Swap.)

My Moon story: I’m a 12th house Cancer Sun /Jupiter conjunction and have the Moon on the Midheaven. I come from a family with many generations of overweight women and alcoholic men.  I’d love to drink more,  but my physical tolerance for alcohol is severely limited–to about two margaritas a year–so you can guess which side I sided with. I’m going on 68, and have been on a diet,  off a diet, trying to talk myself into a diet, or falling off a diet for the past 55 years.  And you know what?  I still feel good about myself because I do my part to make the world a kinder place.

Readers, do you have eating patterns that you learned in your family growing up?  Do you see any correlation between that and your natal Moon? Tell us about it in the comment section. 

More Posts about the Moon:  

free astrology booklet by Donna CunninghamIf these posts were helpful, sign up for a subscription, and get a FREE EBOOKLET for Skywriter Subscribers Only: Mothers, Daughters, and the Moon, a 50-page excerpt from The Moon in your Life. Read more about it here: New: Free Booklet For Skywriter Subscribers! 

 If you’re already a subscriber and want a copy, forward the most recent email post to me at To sign up for a subscription, go to the top right hand corner of the blog and click on “Subscribe.”  Then send me an email with your subscription confirmation or an email post with a request for the booklet in the subject line.

[i]. Garn, Stanley M., Patricia Cole, and Stephen M. Bailey, “The       Effect of Parental Fatness Levels on the Fatness of Biological     and Adoptive Children,” Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 1977, pp.     91‑3.

[ii]. Price, R. Arlene, Ness, Roberta, and Peter Laskarewski. “Common

   Major Gene Inheritance of Extreme Overweight.” Human Biology.

   December, 1990, v:62.6, pp. 747-766.


  1. Ha – I love this one! I’m such a foodie, so this article REALLY speaks to me..

    Moon in Sadge in the 3rd with Venus in Cancer conjunct MC here, and boy do I have a preference for rich foods and anything that could be labeled “comfort food”! Anything that generally involves the use of butter and/or heavy cream in the preparation floats my boat – cakes, pies, pastries – you get the picture. I love food, both cooking and eating and have garnered a reputation as being quite the cook.

    From the heredity standpoint, Mom had the same types of food preferences. She thought nothing on taco night of deep frying our flour tortillas in oil – just thinking about it in retrospect makes me want to puke! She wasn’t overweight at all, however, despite the fact that she had no concept of “eating healthy”. The only thing I can say is that we weren’t fed a lot of crappy, overprocessed, nutritionally-devoid foods as kids -at least she made everything from scratch and served us a protein, a starch, and a vegetable at dinner, even if she did fry our tortillas in oil…..

    While I do love food, I also realize that eating too much or indulging regularly in certain types of foods isn’t healthy for the body. I enjoy the taste of fresh produce as much as I do baked goods and generally speaking have a pretty healthy diet. I grow a lot of my own vegetables in the summer time and love the smell (and taste!) of a beautiful, ripe garden tomato or bell pepper. I run 2 miles a day on a regular basis and have for years because I believe in the importance of taking care of the only body I have. My mother (a Taurus) was quite sedentary and did not set a good example in this regard either.

    Since were talking about the Moon, our eating habits, and the body, I think it’s important to remember not to view our bodies as the sum total of numbers on a scale. I haven’t owned a scale in years because I don’t believe it’s healthy to obsess over weight, and as a woman I’m sickened the mounting pressure there is on women and girls to look a certain way or to be a particular weight. I believe in nurturing the body and soul with food, and no person should be made to feel ashamed of their body because it doesn’t represent a glamorized and unattainable Hollywood ideal.

    Let’s be real – no one should feel guilty about having a cookie once in a while or a piece of birthday cake REGARDLESS of what size they are and we should all try to stop judging each others’ bodies or eating habits in order to cover up our own insecurities. It’s destructive and is responsible for causing or contributing to a lot of eating disorders. I had a friend who struggled with bulimia and have watched this play out first hand, so this a point I wanted to raise some awareness about. Food, family, our emotions, our bodies – they’re all tied together very delicately and people don’t realize how hurtful and damaging even a single comment about someone else’s weight can be.

    For Christ’s sake, don’t say things like “You look like you’ve put on a little weight” when you reconnect with someone you haven’t seen for a while. Don’t ask “When are you due?” when you see a seemingly pregnant-looking woman who may not be expecting! Don’t ask “Should you be eating that?” to a friend when she’s on a diet. And for the love of God, don’t tease or heckle someone about their weight or eating habits PERIOD.

  2. Hi Donna – With Moon in Aquarius in the 5th, eating can be a form of entertainment. I was a big baby (over 9lbs) and a chubby toddler who loved to eat and couldn’t get enough (Moon square Jupiter/Neptune/Mercury in Scorpio).

    Then my Saturn in the 4th kicked in, forming a tight semi-square to my Moon and Scorpio planets. Growing up, mealtime in my household was HELL, an opportunity for my dad to criticize and my parents to battle. Other times my dad was so drunk he’d just fall asleep in his plate – not very appetizing but at least a lot quieter. So I didn’t eat much and was always underweight as a kid. It wasn’t until I was away from my father that I began to wholeheartedly enjoy food again. The only time I don’t eat is when I’m depressed – then I get skinny.

    My dad was a hedonistic eater and drinker who rarely denied himself. I inherited his love of good food (and good times) and have a HUGE appetite (again, Jupiter/Neptune square Moon), but have never been overweight, probably because I’m so physically active (Moon trine retrograde Mars in Gemini). Both of my parents were big walkers, as am I. Otherwise, I’m as prone as anyone else to pack on the pounds. My Virgo rising (inherited from my mother) tends towards healthy choices; you’re not likely to find me snacking on a bag of chips or eating fried chicken every day (much as I’d LOVE to), and I don’t drink soda or alcohol. Right now I’m struggling with a sometimes sugar addiction. Natal Pluto in Virgo will eventually help me kick it.

    Growing up, we never had junk food, candy or sodas in our home, although we were allowed those treats on special occasions. Off topic, but I hate it when I see kids drinking soda and eating fast food every day. I think beauty comes in all sizes, with good health being a separate issue. No need for any of us to try to have a body type we’re not meant to have, but we can take care of the body we’re given, if we choose to. I think being a little afraid combined with a healthy love of self has taught me to respect my body.

  3. Hello Donna,
    Love your site and words of humor, insight and wisdom.
    My natal moon is in Taurus, 11th house along with my Gemini Sun. With Cancer rising, I am the classical Earth Mother: Gardening, cooking homemade, and feeding the children, family and friends….Food is more than simply eating to me. It is sharing and celebrating the wonderous goodness of nature’s abundance and community. This relationship of nurturing and creating through gardening and cooking is in my
    very DNA as my ancestors were farmers and gardeners.
    Thanks again for your wonderful work!

    • Love that Taurus Moon–earth mother, indeed. Very sensual relationship to food and the domestic arts and the land. And as for farming, yes indeed. One time I visited friends back in my home town, and they for some reason had taken over a bar (okay, a beer joint!!) out in the boonies in farm country. They persuaded me to spend a night doing brief readings for their regular customers. There were lots of farmers in overalls, and in one night I met more Taurus Moons than I had in 10 years of seeing clients in New Yawk City. Donna

    • Mmmm, sounds wonderful Laura!

      My Venus Cancer deeply appreciates all you Taurus Moon earth-mothers out there! People who love to work the land always touch a soft spot in my heart – without you guys all us Venus-Cancer foodies wouldn’t have anything to cook with! No farms, No food. I’m a big supporter of local agriculture myself and was just up at a farm this past weekend picking fresh strawberries. It’s a family farm owned by a very nice older couple and their son, and I’m so grateful to them for all the hard work they do every year and love the sense of community that local farms like theirs provide. Sharing and celebrating the bounty and goodness of nature with others is a beautiful thing….

  4. Leo Moon conjunct Uranus and Ascendant, and Sun in Virgo – not much for putting on weight (too high strung and fidgety!) but I *love* food! I am fairly picky and particularly fond of healthy food – lots of fresh produce and healthy animal products (Virgo doesn’t want to see those chickens and cows badly treated, plus it’s bad quality). I get almost high in a good market! (Tonight I brought home asparagus, baby bok choy, a huge papaya, a mango, free-range chicken breast, and oatmeal cookies.) But I should add that I have Mars in Taurus, and a total of 5 earth planets.

    My mother did not like to cook at all, and was partial to sweets. So there you go – maybe my Moon/Uranus is just a separation from mom there. She had Moon in Taurus (in 8th), sextile Jupiter, though she was always very skinny until she had to take meds in later life. Not sure how skinny and Taurus Moon happened!

    May dad has Moon in Gemini and no earth planets at all, though his parents had a huge bountiful garden that we benefited from throughout my childhood. Maybe things just skipped a generation!

  5. Donna,

    If your Sun is in Cancer, you must be having a birthday sometime soon–happy birthday! And thank you for your part in making the world a kinder place. =)

    • Thanks, Jane. Yes, I’m kind of stunned but proud to be going to be 68–I’m about the oldest person that ever was in my family, so it’s unexpected. Donna

  6. My Mother and I both have our Moon is Pisces, hers 29 degrees in the 12th and and mine at 22 degrees in the 4th. We both have patterns of waking at night and eating, half asleep or even fully asleep, much more than we would if we were not out out of it. It definitely appears during times of stress. We also gain and lose weight rather easy.

    • Very interesting, Mysticskye, and it does sound very Pisces Moon, the dream state of it. Donna

  7. As you know, Donna, I’m a beginner and find some of these things very difficult to put together. You asked if we have eating patterns that were learned as we grew up. I always, ALWAYS remember my mother being on a diet and constantly ‘denying’ herself food. Everyone else ate ‘normal’ but she would do these crazy ‘shakes’ diets where she would almost pass out from lack of food.

    I was supposedly a fussy eater – born and grew thin (Dad’s genes and ability to worry; I’m sure I burn it off by worrying about stuff!). My weight was an issue for the opposite reason to most – because I didn’t gain much. I was taken backwards and forwards to Drs, had to plot my weight on a graph, be weighed weekly – all very humiliating and no one stopped to see if I was developing well, was happy and was healthy – I was, to all these things!

    As a late teen I developed a huge appetite – I would eat 4 large cooked meals a day, plus takeout food late at night, about 6 chocolate bars, a couple of pints of stout – all in a bid to put weight on . Did it work? nope! I can eat what I like and not put on an ounce. Likewise, if I’m ill and can’t eat, it’s not unusual to lose 7 lbs in a couple of days.

    I battle with this a LOT. I feel skinny, unattractive, strangers comment on my size and tell me I need feeding up. Contrary to feeling lucky, as a lot of women tell me I am, I feel paranoid.

    I’ve now developed an eating disorder – over the past 10 years or so. It’s a kind of food phobia and at one time I was existing on just 6 different foods. I felt awful, but couldn’t get over the mental blocks (so maybe there is my mother depriving herself?)

    I love to cook for others, to nurture others through food, but I can’t do it for myself.

    My eating is in a mess and I just hope and pray I don’t pass this down to my daughter (who has cancer moon in 12th and loves her food, especially comfort food (home cooked puddings), cream and fish meals).

    My moon is in libra in the 6th, conj uranus and opp chiron in the 12th. That’s as much as I can tell you because I don’t really understand enough about chart interpretation yet but I do know that things are not healthy and probably never have been with regards to my relationship with food 🙂

    • Hi, India, thanks for giving us an illustration of the type of pattern that can develop with a Moon-Uranus aspect. About that combination, I would only say that with Uranus there’s usually an element of rebellion–against parents or society as a whole. Uranus in Libra can rebel against traditional standards of beauty and conventional relationships, so since it’s conjunct the Moon, food, weight, and the traditional female role can become the issue. Donna

  8. I can relate to India’s story. In my childhood, teens and twenties I was underweight and I too got a lot of stick about it. I went to Drs, who said there was no medical reason for it and in the end my doctor concluded that I just didn’t eat enough. I think that was only part of the reason, another part was just that I burnt off so much nervous energy. I remember at home, I was always given the smallest portion, for some reason and when I got hungry and raided the cupboards I would get called greedy! Mum’s motto was that you could never be too rich or too thin!
    Fortunately as soon as I left home I started to gain and became a healthy weight. Now I’m middle aged, like most women my age, I’m battling against the middle aged spread a bit!
    I’ve Moon in Aquarius conjunct Mars, Venus and MC. I’m a vegetarian, which perhaps you could put down to the Aquarius Moon. I’m told that from a small child I always felt uncomfortable about eating meat.
    Fascinating stuff.

  9. I have an aqua moon too, but I have absolutely no problem with meat – on the contrary.
    Food is an important issue for me: when I was a little food would be the remedy and the link between me and mum when facing my alcoholic father. Mum had discovered that she likes food in times of great emotional pain and failure, and slowly I did too.

    In the end, the bond between me and mum broke and I was left fighting some very slim odds against food. I have Pluto right on DSC from the 6th and I have a feeling that my food issues are closely related to my partnership issues, my career issues and pretty much everything. I read that Pluto in 6th can mean carrying a karmic illness and I can relate to that very much even though it sits so close to my DSC.
    I want to believe that with Pluto there I have a chance.

    • Yes, with Pluto in the picture, there’s a good chance of transformation of the pattern. But not a magical, lightning bolt from the sky transformation, one that you work really hard at. A key to Plutonian transformations is letting go of deep-seated resentments and overcoming that fail for spite pattern. It often entails Forgiveness for your own sake, not theirs, even though the bastards don’t deserve it. There’s an article on the Pluto list here that may help: “Stuck for what seems like forever? Maybe Areas of Unforgiveness are the Cause.” Donna

  10. This article has triggered many unhappy memories… an unaspected Moon Venus conjunction in Capricorn blessed me with a bully for a mother who used mealtimes as tools for psychological warfare…interestingly her 2 victims grew to be a lot slimmer and shorter than the 4 other ‘loved’ siblings, all of whom now suffer with overweight.

  11. Hmmm… I love food, but it’s taken years to get there, and the process was critical to becoming a fulfilled person! Moon in capricorn conjunct midheavan, square saturn, pluto and mars (retrograde) in libra in the 6th.

    My mom has been on a diet for much of her life and has been alternating between that and compulsive eating for the past decade or so. It makes me sad because it’s, on the surface, the most important thing to her – size and weight – and so out of control and she won’t even consider the idea that there are emotional components to this pattern. I’m not sure she’ll even allow herself to see a pattern.

    I learned to think of food in terms of numbers when I was six, and didn’t fully stop until I was 23/24! (I haven’t checked, but before that think saturn was in cancer opposite my moon and I had a HELL of a time! ;p)

  12. My mom and I share a Libra Moon and have symbiosis, as follows. She had the Sun in Cancer and was a long-term housewife, serving the family’s food everyday. However, with her Venus in Gemini, she much preferred to be free to read voraciously while smoking. I have the Sun in Gemini and have been a long-term student and writer, not liking to cook. However, with my Venus in Cancer, I love to eat and, with it in mutual reception to the Libra Moon, my over-indulgences lie in sweets.

    My mom remained thin by virtue of eating once a day, only when really hungry. I inherited thinness, but with my love of eating and a Scorpio ascendant, I have to work to remain so. Fortunately, I like moving about (Sun in Gemini), especially via da feet (Mars in Pisces). Also, that Scorpio ascendant is conjunct Saturn, which helps keep my bone structure revealed without too much flesh over it!

    Back to the Moon, mine makes no major aspects, and I do often feel disconnected from others. This feeling, coupled with its 11th house sandwich (no pun intended!) of semi-squaring Saturn, Jupiter, and Pluto at the angles, is what I think triggers bouts of overeating. All the strife of a social Libra Moon in the 11th not connecting with society!

  13. My eating habits are nothing like my mother’s except that we both love to garden and eat what we grow.

    My mother fries everything she can before she eats it. I fry so rarely that I can’t remember the last time I did. My mother eats meat with every meal. I eat meat about once a week.

    My mother loves to grow from seed she saves herself from year to year. I forage for wild plants like dandelion, dock, plantain, and make edibles and beverages from roses, lavender, and hibiscus.

    Similar, but different. Mom is a Taurus Moon and I’m Taurus Asc. so we’re both foodies, but differently.

    Give me a salad of dandelion blooms, greens, and roots dressed with olive oil and yellow doc infused vinegar, a tall glass of sweet iced wild violet tea, and I’m fed in every way. Give my mother a fresh tomato sandwich with fried ham and coffee, and she is fed too.

  14. This article is pretty unhelpful as far as I can see. Not only is this not new information, but the main message is that it’s mostly your parents fault and you should work hella hard to change it but the chances of success are slim.

    This is a very fat-negative attitude and quite frustrating to read. You might consider looking at some “Heath at Every Size” literature to inform your attitudes on weight and health outside of mainstream. You jump right to fat is bad (not stated, but implied at every turn).

    What I take from this article is that the author has issues with her weight and something about astrology. I wish you were more direct about your own issues and perhaps how to moon can be seen as an ally in this issue.

    • Wow, did you read ANY of my comment at all?

      Sounds more like this touched on some of your own issues than anything else….

      Donna’s point in writing this stems from understnding how the patterns and eating habits we where taught as children play into our lives as adults. Um, have you ever heard of the term emotional eating? Do you understand that some people just eat, and eat, and eat to fill up emtional voids within themselves? THAT is unhealthy. Healthy can come in any size, the problem is that most of us don’t realize what healthy is and just default to what we were taught to see as normal based on the habits were were taught as children.

      I mean, if you read my comment you would see that though I love food and love to cook and eat, I do not fry everything in oil in wanton disregard for the health of my body just because mommy did it and it tasted good.
      I also take responsibility for the health of my body by exercising regularly and choose to avoid eating the delicious and often artery-clogging foods that I prefer because it’s simply not good for me. No one implied that being healthy equals being a skinny-minnie.

      How about being direct about your own issues instead of coming onto someone else’s blog and attacking them because it dredges up some insecurity for you? You have no right to speculate that the author has any issues about her weight at all and would do well to read the last section of my comment above.

    • It sounds like the article didn’t have what you were looking for, Dryadgrl? Have I got the gist of your comment?

      Cancer is under Moon rulership. Cancer is associated with stomach issues and Moon with mothering topics. I don’t believe Donna was attempting to counsel anyone on eating disorders, at least I didn’t read the article that way.

      I didn’t read any implications about “fat is bad” at all. Actually, what I read made me want to comment that I was probably the only 17-year-old who could intelligently discuss earned income credit because that’s what happened at our supper table – discussions about tax law!

      Deep breath, honey. 🙂

  15. Let’s see…Sun, Mercury and Venus in Taurus, Venus squared by Pluto in Leo, Moon in Leo conjunct Uranus, Mars in Cancer. Venus trine Jupiter. That enough for you. How about Libra rising? Boy do I have to work at avoiding the perils of overeating and underexercising! Sheesh!

  16. Dryadgrl, fat is bad – for women. I didn’t get this message from Donna’s post but I assure you fat is bad for women. And when I say fat I mean overweight. There is no problem in being round and curvy, but when one is overweight, there is a problem. Men get away with it easily.

    Women need to express their femininity and when one is buried under tones of fat, you can’t do that anymore – and it does not matter from what perspective you look at it. Don’t tell me there is a woman out there that wouldn’t like to wear a faboulous gown, to be slim and amazing, to receive compliments for her looks from everywhere.
    Being overweight limits your options – in clothes, jobs, partners and generally, in life.
    So maybe you are right, fat is not bad, it is just LIMITING!
    “the main message is that it’s mostly your parents fault and you should work hella hard to change it but the chances of success are slim” – I am not going to comment on Donna’s message because she is capable to speak for herself but this is mine:
    1. PARENTS AND THEIR TEACHINGS FOR KIDS ARE IMPORTANT – people chose their partners and behave on the model of their parents, so eating like our parents taught us, is not that far-fetched;
    2. LOSING WEIGHT IS REALLY VEEERY HARD AND THE CHANCES ARE REALLY VEEERY SLIM – this is because most of times, weight is not just fat, it is the weight of negative emotions, betrayals, lies, manipulation, abandonment.
    You look around and you see you don’t have and you never had anything, no family, money or love, so why fight to lose the weight when you can wait for the end of this ’round’/ life? – this is how it plays in the mind! So yes, losing weight is hard and the chances of success are slim.

    I can understand your standpoint, Dryadgrl, people should be accepted for what they are and no one should try to fix others, but there are some things that should not be accepted and things that limit chances for a good life should not be accepted.

    Having a normal weight is about a healthy nutrition, healthy lifestyle and healthy emotions. It sounds so simple, but for people like me is so incredibly hard. And people like you try to encourage people like me to lie to themselves, to stop fighting and give up.

    Donna, thank you, I already read all the articles on this blog and your book on Pluto. I relate to everything. Now that i understand myself, I’ll have to find my way out out of the shit I got into.

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