How to stop feeling fat

Do you ever catch yourself “feeling fat”? Or have a couple of days in a row where you just feel completely bleh and flat? Often that comes out in being a bit of a body hater. I know for sure I experience this!

That’s why I wanted to write about feeling fat today, and give you some of my top tips on how to cope with this feeling.

Did you know “fat” isn’t a feeling?

Fat is actually a descriptor – it’s a body type, a part of your body, or it’s a food group/nutrient. Fat isn’t a feeling, but feeling fat can feel really difficult and loaded. Being in a larger body is demonised by our society, so we view “fat” as a bad thing. The people who promote body positivity – by which I mean the real deal Body Positivity Movement, that was a movement by and for people in marginalised bodies, mainly Black and Brown fat women.

“I feel fat” can turn a pretty standard day into a shame filled one that many of us know all too well.

I’ve been there too – from around 12 to 22 I spent most of my days “feeling fat.” I totally understand the feelings of shame, upset, uncomfortable, and self-loathing.

But here’s what I’ve learnt from my own journey to accepting my body, eating disorder recovery, and helping others do all those things too:

When we “feel fat”, we are always feeling something else deeper.

I invite you to think of the last time you felt fat. If you could replace that with any word from the Emotional Word Wheel below, what might you use? I for one would replace it with:

  • I feel vulnerable
  • I feel unlovable
  • I feel anger at my body

I want to also state right now, if you are in a larger body – “feeling fat” will feel very real. In society, being in a larger body is demonised and often people are made to feel it’s wrong.

I am a fat positive practitioner, and I hold space for all fat people.

6 Tips for When You Feel Fat

1. Don’t panic! You’ve felt this way before… The feeling always passes.

Think about what has helped you in the past; was it chatting to a close friend, cuddling a pet or having a game night with your partner? It might be helpful to make a short list of these things and try one out the next time you need it.

2. Get to know your triggers.

There are so many things that can happen to make you feel fat, such as:

  • Trying on new clothes
  • Old clothes fitting differently
  • Feeling bloated
  • Feeling stressed out and having no time for yourself
  • Feeling anxious or low
  • Spending time with difficult people
  • An upcoming event
  • Remembering past difficult events

Many of your triggers might be unavoidable, but looking for patterns and learning to take care of yourself when triggers will be around should help you cope more.

3. Self-compassion can be really valuable when you’re in the thick of feeling low about your body.

Self-compassion is built of 3 key elements, which are shown below, with examples of each element.

Self-compassionate statements you can use when you feel fat include:

  • I’m going through a tough time right now, everyone feels this way sometimes, but I know it will pass.
  • This really sucks, but I know that I’m not alone feeling bad about my body. I know I will feel better again soon.

Can you write down some of your own statements you can say to yourself when you need them?

4. How can you care for yourself right now?

I like to use the analogy of a cat or dog (or a plant if you don’t have pets!) when you just can’t be bothered, you’re exhausted, you’re fed up with them, and they’ve woken you up all night. You don’t really like them right now! But, you still take care of them. You would still let your dog outside or pet your cat, even if you’re annoyed with them.

Taking care of yourself is the same way. You deserve to care for yourself; even when you don’t like your body.

Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate to have an impact on your mood and wellbeing.

Here are some everyday self-care ideas:

  • Light some candles and have a relaxing bubble bath.
  • Grab your favourite blanket and pillows and get comfortable watching a movie.
  • Have a mini spa night with yourself. Do a face mask, exfoliate and moisturise your skin.
  • Start a journal where you explore how and why you feel the way you do.
  • Having a night in with yourself, Netflix and a glass of wine instead of going to that social event you feel too socially burnt out to go to.
  • Make yourself a cup of tea and take a few breaths.

5. Finally, if you weren’t feeling fat, how would you be feeling?

It might feel really uncomfortable to keep reading that fat isn’t a feeling – you might be thinking “oh course it is! It’s how I feel.”

Now, you totally can feel fat in your body; you might feel heavy, bloated, uncomfortable, in a bit of pain or aching, and generally pretty bleh.

And if you want fat to be a feeling, that’s also completely ok! I’m not here to tell you what is and isn’t a feeling. But I would invite you to think….

If I could replace the word fat with another word, what would I use?

What word springs to mind? Near the beginning of this article, I showed you the Emotional Word Wheel – did you pick out any words from there?

Maybe you feel unloved, unattractive or lonely. Maybe you feel upset, helpless, or hurt.

Often when people feel down about their bodies, it’s a sign of something deeper and once you notice this it can really help you become more connected to your true feelings.

I really, really hope this helps you in some way. Please do let me know how things go for you. You can reach out to me on Instagram, our DM’s are always open to you.

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