The Phenomenon of “Feeling Fat”

When I work with clients on addressing binge eating and emotional eating, the concept of “feeling fat” often arises. It’s a phenomenon because “fat” is not a feeling or emotion. Fat is a label, often associated with negative traits like laziness, unhealthiness, lack of motivation, and weakness.

Can you start seeing the connection to what feelings “feeling fat” is actually about?

The Cycle of Feeling Fat and Binge Eating

Feeling fat often leads to a vicious cycle of binge eating, making one feel even worse. Logically, you might think that feeling overweight would encourage healthier eating habits. However, “feeling fat” is not about weight or body shape. It’s a cover for deeper feelings that we are either unaware of or trying to avoid because they are too painful to face.

The Underlying Feelings

When we examine these feelings more closely, shame often surfaces as a significant underlying emotion. We may have internalised negative labels from our family or society, leading us to use food to cope with these feelings. Especially, bingeing on processed, sugary, and fatty foods can provide a quick spike in dopamine (a pleasure neurotransmitter), temporarily alleviating these feelings.

However, after the binge, we re-enter the cycle of guilt, shame, and self-blame, reinforcing the negative self-beliefs and making it difficult to break free.

How to stop binge eating

Breaking the Cycle

To stop feeling fat and find freedom from bingeing and emotional eating, try the following steps:

  1. Be Curious: The next time you feel fat, explore what’s really going on beneath that feeling. What are you experiencing? What has happened today? What are you telling yourself? Why do you feel the urge to eat?
  2. Write It Down: Documenting your thoughts can help structure them and make them more visible. Write down all negative self-beliefs, whether they originated from loved ones, society, or yourself.
  3. Reflect on the Real Source of Happiness. Ask yourself this: If I imagine myself at the perfect weight and body shape, would this solve my worries? Would this really bring me happiness? The answer to this may not come straight away. Often, our preoccupation with weight and body shape masks deeper emotional issues and unmet needs. True happiness and fulfilment come from within and are often unrelated to external appearances.
  4. Talk About It: Bringing shame to the surface and discussing it with someone supportive can help cultivate self-compassion and self-acceptance.

Remember, you don’t have to do this alone. If you need support, I’m here to help.

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