No one likes feeling fat. Whether you’re feeling bloated or frustrated that your clothes fit tighter, “fat & ugly attacks” are the worst.
I personally think that “fat & ugly attacks” are moreso triggered by physical discomfort than emotional discomfort. After all, the trigger is usually physical, like the way our clothes fit.
But it can also be emotional, like the knee-jerk reaction of seeing an unflattering photo of yourself. Usually, the emotion is shame, which is one of the heaviest feelings to deal with. No wonder the ‘I feel fat’ downward spiral can feel hard to stop!
Can you related? Fortunately, there are better ways to improve self-esteem than punishing ourselves with diets that are far too restrictive. This article will provide some tips to help you out.
What to Do When You’re Feeling Fat
I can admit with honesty that I used to have really low self-esteem before I finally stopped binge eating and healed my relationship with food. I couldn’t even pump gas without feeling like people were looking at me and judging my body.
It seemed like I was struggling with “fat & ugly attacks” almost every day of the week, and only an all-black wardrobe could help me cope. But there are better ways!!
If you feel yourself spiraling when you feel bloated or low about yourself, I hope these tips help. This is how I eventually improved my self-confidence and self-esteem.
1. Don’t insist on wearing constricting clothes, be nice to yourself!
The human psyche is wired to seek out circumstances that reflect your beliefs. It’s called a confirmation bias.
So when your brain is stuck on the same track of “I feel fat,” it’s actually normal to do things that perpetuate this feeling.
Enter: clothes that are too tight, and definitely worsen your self-confidence.
Although this is how your brain is wired, you have access to free will. Which means you can train yourself to recognize when you’re sabotaging yourself, and choose clothes that fit well instead.
2. Avoid guzzling buckets of water
Most of the time, the phrase “I feel fat” can be replaced by better a descriptor like “I feel bloated.” Because if you went from feeling great to feeling like crud within a short amount of time, it’s probably just water retention.
A great way to help your body let go of water retention is to AVOID guzzling buckets of water. Answering a radical feeling with more radical action will only keep the pendulum swinging. Ultimately, it’s best to let your body sort itself out.
Don’t get me wrong — drinking water is a great idea, especially if the bloat was caused by something dehydrating like, say, too much alcohol. But drinking a ridiculous amount isn’t going to help. Drink a normal amount of water and carry on with your day.
Try your best to avoid All-or-Nothing Eating.
3. Don’t perpetuate the restrict-binge pattern
When you’re having an ‘I feel fat’ day, it’s very common to reach for a diet to feel better. If your body feels out of control, it’s common to seek that control in easy-to-reach-for places.
But dieting actually perpetuates the restrict-binge cycle. That means the more we restrict, the more we binge. This ensure that we will continue to struggle with feeling bloated.
If you want to slow the frequency of physically feeling fat, then it’s time to give up dieting and listen to your body to inform what you eat. Your body already has all the wisdom it needs to be its natural weight.
4. Eat! Seriously
I know you don’t want to hear it, and might not even feel worthy of it (if you’re dealing with shame from night eating), but you still need to eat.
The human body requires calories. And if you starve yourself, your body stresses out because it doesn’t know if you’re in a famine or not, and starts to act like you’re going to starve.
This causes your body to burn as little energy as possible in order to ensure your survival. And if this happens when you’re already having a “fat & ugly attack,” we can assume it will only make things worse.
Again, try to avoid all-or-nothing eating.
5. Focus on joy to prevent “hedonic eating”
Getting over an ‘I feel fat’ day doesn’t have to be all about discomfort, though. Sometimes we need to increase our tolerance for JOY just as much as our tolerance for discomfort.
Sadly, most people that struggle with compulsive eating usually struggle with finding time for joy. But an awful thing happens when you don’t have joy elsewhere in your life: you’ll compulsively seek joy from food. It’s called hedonic eating.
Fortunately, there’s a fairly straightforward fix: find your joy, and add some to your day, even if it’s just a little. Self-care is a priority.
6. Do the “Inner Work”
Often times, we struggle with self-image not just because our body is uncomfortable, but because of what we make it mean.
Because we can have bodies that feel larger than usual and not struggle with feeling fat. It’s the internal beliefs that make it miserable.
My workbook called Why We Do the Things We Do helps you identify the subconscious beliefs that lead to self-sabotage.
It’s not directly related to body acceptance. Rather, it focuses on ending self-sabotage so that you can stop dieting and get on with your life. And that, indirectly, helps with body acceptance.
7. Don’t feel pressured to love your body — celebrate small wins
Did you notice there wasn’t any advice on loving your body here? That’s because self-love can seem too far-fetched for someone struggling with feeling fat.
Usually, on ‘I feel fat’ days, we’re lucky to just a moment of peace from all the negative self-talk — let alone a moment of self-love. So if self-love seems too ridiculous right now, let that be okay.
See if you can find a little room for body acceptance instead of body love. Even if it’s for just a few moments, see if you can let yourself off the hook from the extremely high standards you probably have set for yourself.
Slowly Reduce the Dreaded ‘I Feel Fat’ Days
These tips probably won’t help you stop struggling with ‘fat & ugly attacks’ all at once. It usually takes time for us to rewire our brains and establish new behavior patterns.
Please, please, please have compassion for yourself if you feel like you’re falling apart. It’s normal to feel self-conscious when we live in a society that glorifies skinny and shames anyone for “lack of willpower.” (Don’t get me started!!)
The journey from self-hate to self-acceptance — and eventually to self-love — is long and unique for everyone. Have compassion for wherever you are. The struggle isn’t for lack of trying!
If you want more tips on eating psychology, check out the free ebook below: