Do I have a body image problem?
> Do you spend a great deal of time focussed on a particular aspect of your appearance?
> Do you view a particular part of your body as being flawed or defective in some way?
> Do you go to great lengths to improve or conceal the area of concern on your body?
> Have you noticed that your efforts to improve or conceal your perceived flaw are impacting on your life in a negative way?
> Do you often find yourself checking in the mirror or reflective surface, only to find it triggers that inner critic who starts to case negative judgements such as “that is disgusting” “you’re so fat” or “you really did not need that [referring to food]”?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you would benefit from engaging with an eating disorder specialist in Melbourne or your local area. You may be experiencing a body dissatisfaction or perhaps disordered eating patterns. If your bodily concerns are primarily weight/shape related and have changed your eating patterns, it is important you speak with a doctor about the possibility of having an eating disorder. You may for a GP referral to be referred to a eating disorder specialist or one of our Melbourne psychologists who specialise in evidence-based treatments for eating disorders.
Some common signs symptoms of poor body image may include:
> Checking behaviours: obsessive self-scrutiny in mirrors and other ‘checking behaviours’ such as touching collar bone, stomach or thighs, perhaps looking at yourself whilst walking past a reflective surface, weighing self on the bathroom scales quiet excessively, or looking at old photographs and comparing yourself, among a few other checking behaviours our Psychologist will go through with you in session.
> Comparisons, comparison, and more comparison (only in the negative way of course!): thinking disparaging comments about your body and frequent comparison of your own shape and size to other people.
> Perceiving an ideal body image: Ideal envy of a friend’s body, or just as commonly the body of a celebrity or someone else in the media.
> Avoidance due to shame: Feeling self-conscious or uncomfortable with appearance or body size or shape therefore leading to avoiding physical activity.
> Excessive exercise as method to control weight: In contrast to the above, over exercising or engaging in an excessive amount of physical activity with an objective to lose weight or change your body shape. This means you are focusing on physical activity as a means of weight control and to change your body size or shape.
> Long history of dieting: Trying to lose weight through dieting, however finding the weight that was lost is gained back over time.
Is there a relationship between an eating disorder and poor body image?
That is generally the case. We find body image concerns and eating disorders go hand in hand. Often, it is the early dissatisfaction with a young person’s appearance that leads them to conclude that losing weight would enhance their appearance and make them feel better about themselves and their bodies. As a method to control weight, shape, and appearance we often find restrictive eating and over exercising come next in line. This frequently leads to patterns of disordered eating and weight obsession that can develop into anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, compulsive overeating, or binge eating disorder.
If you feel dissatisfied or unhappy with your body, feel like your body image gets in the way of being able to live your life or do the things you would like to, or you are engaging in restrictive eating or other unhealthy eating or exercise behaviours, seeking an eating disorder specialist in Melbourne or your local area is important. Psychologists, dietitians, and other health professionals trained in body image and eating disorders can assist you to improve your body image and relationship with food and physical activity.
How about finding a psychologist who works with poor body image or eating disorders?
At Positive Wellbeing Psychology, we specialise in eating disorder treatment and poor body image. A psychologist will help by establishing a wraparound support with the treating individual, their GP, Psychiatrist and Dietician. We understand it can be a long journey and stressful for the individual and their family supports.