Anatomy of a Fat Thought:

How to Decode Feeling “Fat” 

You wake up one morning feeling good. You put on your favorite jeans, you know the ones that you would avoid wearing on a ‘bad’ day. And, then suddenly, out of nowhere, you feel FAT. You feel like your thighs doubled in size in the last 5 minutes and you are overwhelmed by fat attacks. You feel fat and are worried you’re becoming fat. Perhaps you’ve heard before, that ‘fat is not a feeling,’ and you know intellectually, that you didn’t just gain 10 pounds in the past hour, so wtf is going on? 

Feeling fat is a common experience among dieters. It might seem like a reasonable way to  motivate us into action, but truth is, it does the opposite. It leads us to feel worse about ourselves which in turn drives us to behaviors that sabotage our health goals. AND, feeling fat is the great distractor from underlying issues. 

Feeling fat is a distraction from dealing with the underlying issue. Indeed, something in your life is trying to get your attention, some issue wants to be solved, resolved, seen and or dealt with. But instead of actually getting to the root of the issue, we bite the hook of feeling fat instead. Feeling fat leads to disordered behaviors such as: excessive exercise, counting calories, cutting out bread, weighing yourself, etc. The problem with this, is that it moves you away from the actual issue that your fat feelings are trying to get your attention with.

Instead of jumping on the feeling fat bandwagon, slow down and get curious about what else might be going on. 

Ask yourself:

  • What else might I be uncomfortable about? 
  • Did my boss’s conversation about her keto diet bother me? 
  • Did that picture of me on social media trigger something? 
  • Am I feeling overwhelmed at work and need to ask for help? 

There are just a few examples of *real* underlying issues that are hidden from the familiar flight to safety: feeling fat. You see how we always want to blame our bodies as the source that needs to be fixed and made smaller, instead of actually slowing down enough to ask, ‘What else might this be about?’ 

When you can slow your roll, you can move closer to actually solving the issue in your life that needs attention. Moving in this direction requires that you learn the language of emotions and feelings. It requires that you identify how you are feeling (emotions) such as confusion, frustration or sadness. Begin with getting curious about your internal feelings and how they are desperately trying to get your attention.

Diet culture wants you to believe (and they spend beau coup bucks to keep you feeling small and hating on your body) that the solution to all your problems is found in a smaller Earth suit (aka Body).

It seems like there’s a concrete solution, something you can control, inches lost, pounds lost; we gain a sense of the illusion of control. The other underlying life issues feel out of control, because they are largely out of our awareness. Or, theses issues feel ‘huge’ as if there is no immediate solution to them. This is especially evident if we don’t have the skills yet to solve the issue. Skills such as emotional awareness and the ability to identify and sit with our feelings. Assertiveness skills to ask our boss for help. And having the skill to set boundaries with people and our time so that we may better protect ourselves.

There may also be a history of trauma that has been unexamined. Shifting the focus to your body to cope acts as protection. Until we learn essential life skills to better protect and take care of ourselves, we will remain vulnerable to the forces of diet culture, and diet culture will always want you to believe you are FAT (and that fat is bad), and ‘NOT GOOD ENOUGH,’ and that you can’t be trusted around chocolate. 

Here is a systematic way to decode fat thoughts also known as ‘Anatomy of a Fat thought. ‘

To begin to form a fat thought you start with 

An unlabeled discomfort

You feel compelled to reach for food and you start 


This leads to 


You are obsessed with a series of painful, albeit familiar thoughts about your body and your weight and how bad you are for having eaten.


You have just made the translation from the language of feelings into 

The language of FAT

The compulsive eating was a way of coping with discomfort by translating complex concerns into an obsessive preoccupation with eating and weight. 

Whenever these thoughts happen, you blame your eating and your weight.

Remember- you are telling the truth, but in translation.

You are referring to something else that you feel bad about. 

You eat through the difficulty or yell at yourself about your size or weight, and then say the problem is fat and your body.

With this knowledge, you can now start to use your compulsive reach toward food as a way to better understand yourself. 

With practice, you can start to move away from blaming your body as the problem, and instead have the awareness and skills to look elsewhere. Anytime you feel ‘fat,’ this can be a helpful alarm signal that something in your life needs your loving attention. This is one of the many gifts of having body and food issues, as they serve as portals into meeting your needs so you can nourish yourself in more sustainable and pleasurable ways.

If you struggle with decoding your ‘fat feelings’ and or have trauma that is unresolved, you might benefit from professional help. Please reach out for help. I have a vast network of referrals and or schedule your free discovery call with me here

Love, light and chocolate,


Source: Anatomy of a fat thought is adapted from Dana Armstrong, RD from Moving away from diets. 

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Karen Louise Scheuner, MA, RDN

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