The urge to diet is so strong, especially in a society that’s constantly telling you to weigh less. But if you continue to invest in weight loss goals, you’ll continue to stay stuck struggling with your weight, yo-yo dieting and ‘feeling fat’. Here’s how to overcome these negative thoughts, according to Lyndi Cohen.

Sadly, ‘feeling fat’ is something I know all too well. I spent many years feeling fat and hating myself (and my body) for it.

Feeling fat ruined holidays. It’s caused me to leave parties early or feel like I had nothing to wear even while my wardrobe was full.

A number of things would trigger this ‘I feel fat’ feeling – seeing my passing reflection in a shop window and looking much bigger than I hoped I would, or catching up with a friend who just lost a tonne of weight and feeling envy that it wasn’t me.

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It took me a decade of feeling fat to realise something very important.

‘Feeling fat’ doesn’t motivate you to get healthy. Not in the long term, anyway.

When you ‘feel fat’, your knee-jerk reaction is to go on a diet or bury your head in a tub of Ben & Jerry’s. You’re more likely to resort to unsustainable and extreme approaches to get rid of the ‘fat feeling’ as soon as possible.

This leads to trying things like laxative tea spruiked by one of the Kardashians, even though the drink makes you shit your pants and feel awful for days.

It means you sign up to yet another ‘healthy lifestyle program’ that’s really just a diet in disguise. And it means you stay stuck in the same-boring-cycle of feeling fat and hating yourself for it.

So here are some proactive things that you can do when you feel fat that can actually help you move forward.

5 helpful ways to cope when you’re “feeling fat”

1. Stop trying to lose weight. I mean it…

It may sound counterintuitive but hear me out. It’s the only way.

You’ve spent your whole life trying to lose weight, right? And be honest… if any of those approaches really worked, would you really be reading this article?

Here’s what we need to realise.

Often, trying to lose weight prevents you from losing weight and keeping it off.

To cut a very long story short, after more than a decade of unsuccessfully dieting myself into feeling fat, I finally lost 20kg over four years.

However, I didn’t do this through deprivation or macro counting.

Instead – for the first time ever – I made health, not weight loss, my goal. I stopped telling myself: “You shouldn’t eat that” and gave myself full permission around food. And you know what? Once I knew and fully trusted that I could eat anything I wanted – anytime I wanted – food became a choice, again.

When I stopped trying to control food, food stopped controlling me. My weight stopped being a problem in my life.

“But I still want to lose weight?”

Of course, you do!

‘Feeling fat’ sucks. The urge to diet is so strong, especially in a society that is constantly telling you to weigh less.

But if you continue to invest in weight loss goals that jeopardise your health, you’ll continue to stay stuck struggling with your weight, yo-yo dieting and ‘feeling fat’. After all, isn’t the definition of insanity trying the same thing and expecting a different outcome?

2. Invest in a healthier relationship with food

Lie in bed at night feeling guilty for ‘messing up’ yet again? Constantly starting from scratch every Monday?

These are all clues that you need a much healthier relationship with food.

It’s not a quick fix. But it’s worth doing.

3. Stick within the ‘Enjoyment Zone’

Forget the ‘fat burn’ or ‘heart rate’ zone. The most important thing when it comes to health is to find (and stay) within the enjoyment zone.

Do you really enjoy that HIIT class or are you there because you feel you ‘should’? Unless it sparks joy, ditch it like that insecure and clingy bff from high school.

Hate eating sad salads? Of course you do. You’re too smart for boring bowls! Pro tip: If you don’t find healthy food that truly feels enjoyable, then health will never come naturally, and ‘feeling fat’ may be hard to shake.

4. Marie Kondo your wardrobe

First, get undies that actually fit. I recommend at least a size or two up from what you think you need so there is absolutely no pulling or cutting into your lovely, juicy bits.

Then, do a large cull. If you need to buy new clothes in a larger size, do it. Your weight is not meant to stay the same for your entire life. Let go of the weight you think you’re meant to be (including your high school weight or your wedding weight) and accept your weight is evolving – just like you.

5. It’s OK if you don’t love your body

Geez. Loving your body in a world that is constantly telling you to weigh less is damn exhausting stuff, don’t you think? It’s perfectly normal then (though I wish it wasn’t) to have days where you feel like you’re the wrong weight.

You don’t have to love your body. You really don’t.

However, your body is worthy of respect regardless of how it looks. Simply treat it with respect and gratitude. Body acceptance is a choice.

The fact is you will never have a body that looks perfect from every angle. And that’s totally OK.

What’s not OK is wasting your life hating on your lovely self when you already have a perfectly lovely body.

Allow ‘feeling fat’ to be a temporary feeling and then choose to take a new approach.

Lyndi Cohen is a dietitian and best-selling author of The Nude Nutritionist book. Her program Keep It Real can help you stop binge and emotional eating. You can follow Lyndi on Instagram @nude_nutritonist.