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What Are Some Strategies to Help Deal With Weight Bias?

Published in Weight Management, For the Health of It Author: Zayda Ewing,PA-C

Weight bias can influence our self-perception and how we interact with the world daily. We may feel judged by the words of others, those daily microaggressions, where we feel talked down to because our weight is perceived as a choice. Or we may feel others are critical of our mobility and accessibility, such as the way we walk through doorways or sit on a bus or plane. These experiences can cause a shift in self-esteem, confidence, social life and the ability to feel happy and content in life. If you feel like weight bias is affecting you, the strategies below can help.

Recognize and Challenge Negative Self-Talk

Recognize that negative self-talk comes in many different forms. I tell my patients that negative self-talk is external words, internalized. These words can come from a parent, teacher, medical provider or whomever. Our brains can latch onto these thoughts and create a never-ending loop in our minds. It is not your fault you received comments that defy your self-perceptions. I challenge my patients to ask the following questions.

  • Is this your belief?
  • Do you believe this about yourself?
  • If so, why do you believe it?
  • Does the person who said it really know you as a person?

Identifying and figuring out where the negative self-thoughts came from is an important first step. Then, create a boundary between your thoughts and the negative comments of others. Another way to challenge negative thoughts is by talking through them with a psychotherapist, psychologist, counselor, social worker or somebody else in the mental health field.

Embrace Body Neutrality and Body Appreciation

A crucial step to neutrality and acceptance is finding ways to combat the negative with appreciation. For example, “I hate the way my legs look today, but I am so thankful I get to walk. My legs walk me to beautiful places.” I want my patients to appreciate and find gratitude in the many different parts of their bodies.

Shift the Focus to Health and Well-being

We live in a world where foods are considered good and bad, where the diet culture machine is meant to have you focus on your weight and that one powerful number that comes with it. You are not your weight, and you cannot tell the health of somebody by the way the body looks. Our work at CentraCare Weight Management does not focus on any number or external characteristics, but on what is found internally and can provide you with a high-quality life.

Practice Self-Compassion

Depending on your interests, you can find many podcasts, books and meditations about practicing self-compassion. Creating self-affirmations and placing them on sticky notes on your mirror, putting reminder alarms on your phone or finding apps that remind you of your worth can make a big difference.

We may not think about it, but clothes are an important part of our day. I always tell my patients that we find clothes to fit our bodies. We shouldn't have to change our bodies to fit into clothes. Find clothes that make you happy, fit you and make you feel comfortable in your own skin.

Don’t lose sight of your goals, dreams and passions. You have a purpose in this life.

Celebrate Individuality and Uniqueness

You are not alone. Through my experience, I have found it beneficial to encourage patients to find the people they feel comfortable with, those you feel will understand where you're coming from and may have experienced the same things as you. You can celebrate and express your individuality together.

Give yourself permission to live outside the bounds that our world has created for you.

Surround Yourself with Positive Influences

I like to challenge my patients with how they engage with social media. Not all social media is bad, just make sure to utilize and cultivate it in a way that fits your goals. Surround yourself with and follow positive content and don’t be afraid to share yourself. Make sure to pay attention to the content you absorb because it will influence how you feel daily.

You can find safe places online. Finding communities online to talk to or friends and family you trust will help you persevere through many obstacles.

Seek Professional Support

If you feel like you are stuck and don’t feel comfortable in your own body, you have options — whether it be in an emergency situation or something else. If you feel things are getting worse on a regular basis, and you don’t know what to do, we can provide you with a variety of resources.

Weight bias can take a toll on your mental health. Please don’t be afraid to ask us for help. You will find a haven with us.

For more information on CentraCare Weight Management services, visit us online or call 320-240-7809.