Body image issues are a prevalent characteristic of people with eating disorders. Your body image is the result of your thoughts and feelings about your appearance. In people with eating disorders, these thoughts and feelings are often distorted (“If I’m thinner, I’ll be better – more likable – more successful”). People with a negative body image often resort to disordered eating behaviours, repeated dieting, or over-exercising in the hope to feel better about their looks. Their extreme fear of looking fat can lead to starvation, binge eating and/or purging behaviours.
Having a negative body image and low self-esteem are closely linked. If you suffer from low self-esteem, you may feel helpless, anxious or depressed. You might have a tendency to seek approval from others, yet are extremely sensitive to criticism. Social situations are difficult for you, because you feel self-conscious or inadequate. In people affected by an eating disorder, their body is where all their shame and self-hatred are focused, and their weight and their ability to control their weight is the gauge for their self-esteem.
As part of your treatment we will help you become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, behaviours in relation to your body image and how past experiences might have impacted them. You will learn to identify the triggers for your thoughts and emotions related to your low body image, learn to manage the emotions and challenge the negative thoughts rather than avoiding them by means of food, exercise, etc.
We will help you accept both the negative and the positive aspects of yourself, by identifying your achievements and non-physical attributes, and look at other aspects of your life that are important to you. You will learn to challenge your beliefs about your weight and body and show more compassion to yourself.
We help you increase your self-competence by setting achievable goals. As you come to accept that you are responsible for your own actions, you will learn to recognise and meet your own needs, feel more comfortable making your own decisions and be more confident in asserting yourself.