Generally, friends and family members are encouraged to change the way they talk about food, their relationship to food, weight, and their relationship to weight or body image. Often this challenge is uncomfortable because most don’t realize how normalized self-criticism and negative self-talk is in mainstream culture. Ideologies which have become homogenized through repetition have changed the way people feel about their bodies and in turn, their self worth. For example, the “f-word”, fat, is considered to be a trigger for people recovering from eating disorders. That is because fat has a negative connotation in mainstream culture. Fat is seen to be as unhealthy, unattractive, and undesirable. If someone is fat, they don’t care about themselves, they’re lazy, they will never be in a relationship with someone attractive. This is where mainstream culture gets confused and why it is so essential for friends and family members of someone in recovery from an eating disorder to change their perspective and language. Fat, therapists often say, isn’t a feeling. Fat isn’t a state of being. People aren’t fat. People cannot feel fat aside from the very physical transaction of feeling the fat that they have on their body. Fat is an essential part of existence. It is true that some people can have a very low BMI or fat percentage on their body. For some bodies, that isn’t healthy. The truth is that people aren’t fat, people have fat, because people need fat. Some people have a lot of fat. Some people have hardly any fat at all. Some people need to lose weight for health reasons. Some people need to gain weight for health reasons. The health and wellness of an individual cannot be defined by their external appearance. The worthiness and value of an individual cannot be defined by their external appearance as well.
Using the word fat with a negative connotation perpetuates the stigma of shame which comes with it. Families and friends of someone in recovery from an eating disorder need not shun the use of the word or hide from it- this is not what your loved one needs. What your loved one is working on through therapy and treatment for their eating disorder is coming to terms with their own body. They are learning not to compare and criticize their own or other’s bodies and to realize all bodies are different and in being different all bodies are beautiful. They are learning that having fat is okay. Having a body is okay. Being okay is okay.
The more okay you and your family become regarding fat, food, body weight, and body image, the more okay it is for you and your loved one to be okay with who they are.
A holistic lifestyle which incorporates wellness practices for mind, body, and spirit, is the answer for recovery from eating disorders, co-occurring mental health disorders, and dual diagnosis substance abuse issues. Avalon By The Sea focuses on bringing clients to serenity in their lives through proven clinical treatments and healing therapy methods. Call us today for information on our primary mental health care residential treatment programs and to receive a confidential assessment. 888-958-7511