Updated: Dec 11, 2020
Do you find yourself constantly worried about gaining weight or are you scared to eat because of weight gain? You are not alone. Time and time again I see this question of; "how to I deal with the fear of weight gain?" in Eating Disorder Recovery being tackled by the thing you fear- which is food! It’s like trying to tackle your fear of heights with a solution that involves chucks you off the side of building. Crazy right!
So, I’m not talking anything to do with food here- you can google that stuff or go onto many other IG pages- because I’m sure you have already tried to focus on changing what you are eating to stop fearing weight gain and guess what- the fear is still there right and may be growing stronger?!
There are 2 things I want you to start to do to get over your fear of weight gain:
1. Understand what is going on in your mind
There are two parts of you involved in your food issues or Eating Disorder. The fear of weight gain is coming from your problem part and not your true self part. When you make that decision to overcome your Eating Disorder or food issues- because you have made that decision to change, your problem part will go into PANIC mode, because it thinks that you don’t need it anymore. It will do whatever it can to sabotage you, tell you horrible things about how you look and basically try and turn you against Eating Disorder recovery.
Your food problems are coming from your subconscious mind (not your conscious, rational mind) and the main job of the subconscious is to keep you safe. For some reason your food problem part believes it is doing you a favour - you may want to ask yourself what does my food problem part bring me, what am I gaining from my Eating Disorder? When you feel the fear of weight gain (and of fear of certain foods and even recovery itself), this sends a signal to your subconscious mind that you are under threat ( fear = threat to your subconscious), so again it will do whatever it can to get you away from that threat, which is the fear of weight gain or the fear of gaining weight back. So, of course you are finding yourself sabotaging your progress even though consciously you so desperately want to recover! It is essential to realise that the fear of weight gain is not coming from you, but the fear of putting weight back in is coming from your subconscious mind, because it believes it is keeping you safe by keeping you stuck with your food problems or Eating Disorder.
2. What does weight gain mean to you?
To stop the fear of gaining weight, you must dig a little deeper and understand what weight gain means to you. At some point in your life your brain made that association that weight = something bad. This can happen as a result of a negative past experience or a learned behaviour from the people we spent most of our time with which led you to become scared of gaining weight. You may have received a hurtful comment from someone else about the way you look. Or your family may have also had the same problem and you grew up in a house where weight gain = bad and this exposure led you to pick up the same belief system. Once this fear of weight gain belief has been wired into the brain, your brain will then go looking for evidence in your environment to reinforce that belief (whether the belief is good or bad) and so over time your belief system will eventually become your reality. This is when you can become scared to eat because of the fear of weight gain, or you find yourself constantly worried about your weight. This is all down to the workings of your brain- NOT you as a person. Because this belief was learned at some point in your life, that means it can also be unlearned, through reflecting and reframing.
To start to rewire this belief system you must look back and then forwards:
1. What does that little girl need to know, learn, feel, believe that by knowing it would allow her to let go of the fear of weight gain, which is no longer serving her
2. What is a new belief I could test which doesn’t involve the association weight gain = bad
Then it is your job to go looking for evidence in your environment to support this new belief. In essence you are showing your brain that it is safe and giving it the evidence to start to rewire a new belief that ACTUALLY serves you. This takes time but the more evidence you gather the faster the brain will rewire and you will start to notice that you are able to get over the fear of weight gain.
To fully overcome the fear of weight gain if you think it is about food you have missed the point! You must turn the focus inwards and focus on the core drivers if you ever want to be fully free and get to that place of accepting who you really are. Regardless of your weight and seeing food as just food.
If this has stirred something up inside you and you are ready to overcome your Eating Disorder or food struggles, then let me show you another way, a new approach and a strategy which will help you jumpstart your journey and make real progress towards resolving these struggles once and for all! Full recovery is possible, let me show you how.
Until next time,
Online Eating Disorder Therapist
Eating Disorder Recovery