5 powerful steps to take the next time you’re “feeling fat”

Catherine Liberty's picture

Let me ask you a question. How many times have you found yourself thinking “I feel fat today?” 

When you’re in recovery from bulimia, feeling fat can be extremely distressing – it may even prompt you to question your ability to continue with the recovery process.

I remember when I first started online bulimia treatment here at Bulimia Help I “felt fat” every single day for weeks on end. It was relentless and I found myself constantly wanting to just give in and binge.

However, as I continued on with the recovery process I had to ask myself a very important question:

Exactly when did fat become a feeling?

Sometimes, admitting to yourself (or others) that you feel fat is far easier than admitting that you feel scared, lonely, vulnerable , weak or afraid. 

I know from my own recovery experience, that when I found myself uttering the words “I am so fat today”, there was always a whole range of different, underlying emotions behind the statement. 

Learning how to accurately identify those different emotions is really the first step in creating healthy coping mechanisms and leaving behind those fat feelings forever.  

Even if you have gained weight in recovery, the chances are this is NOT the root cause of those fat feelings

I love how Dr. Stacy Nye, clinical psychologist and specialist in the field of eating disorders, explains this:

“Your actual weight is not what leads you to feel fat one minute and not the next, and not the problem that needs to be dealt with at the time. Just like the problem with gambling is not the cards. The problem with compulsive shopping is not the stores. The problem with feeling fat is not literal fatness, but the painful emotional state within.” 


So how can you start to overcome these fat feelings and start to uncover the real emotions behind them?

5 steps to take the next time you’re “feeling fat”

1. Acknowledge your feelings – Start to become aware that every time you hear yourself saying “I feel fat”, there is probably a series of other, negative, underlying emotions. 

2. Ask yourself “What am I really feeling?” – Are you lonely, tired, bored, angry, stressed or scared? Are you lacking trust when it comes to recovery? 

3. Ask yourself “What lead to this feeling?” - Think back on the past 24 hours or so. Could any specific situation or event have contributed to these feelings? 

4. Take positive action to deal with the underlying emotions - Do something that will help you to cope with the real emotions behind these feelings. Talking to my recovery buddies, writing in my journal and getting out of the house really used to help me. 

5. Prepare for future “fat feelings” – You may find that one particular event triggers those fat feelings, so it can always help to think up a strategy that you will use the next time this happens. 

By following the above steps you should be able to tune into your real emotions, without simply burying them, or projecting them onto your physical appearance. 

Remember even if you’re currently struggling to come to terms with weight gain or bloating in recovery, fat feelings almost always originate from other deep-rooted fears and emotions. 

If you’re interested in learning more about Bulimia Helps bulimia treatment success then why not take a look at what some of our members have to say about their own experiences with us via our success stories section!



AmyL's picture
This is such a helpful piece.

This is such a helpful piece. Thanks Catherine!

What you say seems so apt as in my case some weeks I can feel obese at a lower weight than a higher weight due to stress, tiredness,different anxieties. So what you've said here really resonates with me.

I know my "fat" feeling this week is totally related to work stress and being overtired. What a wonderful perspective!

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Thank you so much Amy (I

Thank you so much Amy (I absolutely adore your profile photo by the way!)

I completely agree with you here. Before I recovered I had heard the saying "fat is not a feeling" and it never really resonated with me, actually I used to think "fat IS a feeling."

But through my own healing process and by listening to the wise words of others like Stacy Nye I was really able to see how those fat feelings are always the result of other, powerful emotions like fear or anger.

I'm so glad reading this was helpful for you :)

take care

Catherine x

jodi.hill's picture
Love this article! This will

Love this article! This will give me stregnth every "Fat" day ;)


Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Thank you Jodi, I'm really

Thank you Jodi, I'm really glad you liked reading it :) x

ardnassac79's picture
Just stumbled on this article

Just stumbled on this article this morning - and wow I almost want to print off those 5 steps and carry them around with me. Thanks again for inspiration :)

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
You're so welcome

You're so welcome ardnassac79, I'm really glad it was helpful for you :) x x

amberlee's picture
I am so grateful that you

I am so grateful that you wrote this. Yesterday I was feeling comfortable in my body and suddenly (because I ate something I have not eaten in over 15 years) I felt fat. I thought to myself this is strange how could I gain 20 kilos in a space of thirty minutes I knew it was psychological but mow I understand it had a deeper meaning. I was feeling vulnerable as for so many years my food like many bulimics is what kept me untouchable. The remarkable thing is doing these actions has removed the weight I have "gained." Thank you Catherine

Amberlee Jayde

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