Body Image and Eating Disordered Behaviors

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“My body image is terrible. All I want to do is use behaviors to feel better, but my body image gets worse no matter which behavior I use. If I restrict to lose weight, I feel fat. If I binge to soothe myself, I feel fat. If I exercise to feel better, I feel fat. Why won’t my behaviors stop me from feeling fat?”

 “Feeling fat” can’t be fixed through using an eating disordered behavior, because it’s not about your body or your weight. It can’t be fixed by bad mouthing yourself, hating yourself, or hurting yourself. All that results from those tactics is feeling lower, more worthless, and in much more psychological and physical pain. The path to recovery, self-care, or positive body image cannot be paved by negativity of any sort. It never has, and never will. It is a fundamental impossibility. If you keep trying, you will never get anywhere, except exactly where you already are, or worse.

Why won’t negativity and/or eating disordered behaviors stop you from feeling fat? Because “feeling fat” is code for feeling bad about yourself. Feeling “fat” is a synonym for feeling low, worthless, sad, lonely, anxious, lost, depressed, confused, disconnected, angry, etc.

Feeling fat is about anything and everything else other than your body. You have to try another tactic. Try to imagine what you might really, genuinely be feeling. It might be painful, but this approach is the doorway to recovery and feeling better about your body. If you continue to feel “fat”, and do whatever eating disordered behavior at your disposal to feel “better”, you may feel relief for a moment, but the feeling will ALWAYS come rushing back like a freight train and you will feel just as bad, if not worse.

The road to feeling better about your body is the road to having a better, more authentic, more fulfilling life. So, if you are feeling lonely, you need to begin building healthy relationships. If you are feeling sad, you may need to cry and feel the tears pour down your face. If you are angry, you may need to shout out loud what you are angry about. If you are confused, search for clarity. Seek advice from trusted people. If you are hurt, express your feelings openly and honestly. If you are living in fear, take small baby steps, leaps of faith, small risks. If you are living an unfulfilling life, try something new, no matter how big or small. Start to develop a hobby, or a passion for anything that you could immerse yourself in. Sing, dance, color, walk in nature, develop your spirituality, learn a new language, do a puzzle. The more immersed you are in living an authentic life, one where you are honestly expressing your emotions, communicating effectively and openly, taking emotional risks, and developing interests and passions, the healthier mentally and physically you will feel. The better you will feel, the less “fat” you will feel, and the less you will be drawn to use eating disordered behaviors to numb out from life.

Remember, the road to healthy body image is NEVER accomplished by trying to “fix” the outside. Search inside, and the outside will take care of itself.

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