How to help someone get through a bad body day…


Summer can be a tough season for many of our clients. Folks feel less hidden by clothing, sometimes last summer’s clothes don’t fit, and being more in contact with their own skin can feel really vulnerable. It is a time when both external and internalized weight bias are heightened.

Our client’s bodies may not have changed drastically from December, March or even May, but it can feel like they have. In response, the possibility of food restriction, dieting and body loathing can increase with the temperatures.

As clinicians we are challenged to NOT collude with our client’s fearful and self-loathing dieting mind, but to support the exploration of all that is happening. Our job in these moments is to model inclusion, offer empathy and stay away from suggestions that sound or feel like “making a plan”.

Here is what we often suggest:

  • Keep the lens wide. Body discomfort is never a sign of personal deficit or failure but it can feel like it in the context of a body-obsessed culture.   Instead, it is time to get curious. What else is going on in their lives?  What do they need to express to alleviate the shame they feel?
  • Suggest this simple mantra: “No fixin, no fixin, no fixin”. A tough body day is often the gateway back into the seductive simplicity of the dieting cycle. Help your clients keep their heads above water. Remind them that tough body days come and go. They are temporary and can derail healing.
  • Ask your client, “If you lived in a world free of weight bias, how would you want to enjoy these warmer days?” The answer will likely be full of wisdom.

Happy Summer!