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Session 3

Parents and Carers – Body Image and Healthy Eating

Session 3

Behaviours & anxiety

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Session 3
Behaviours and biology

Behaviours individuals might have due to negative body image.

From session 2 set 3 goals to help your child achieve their future pie chart:

Activity: Hot cross bun model

Complete a hot cross bun model

Start here

Identify avoidance/checking
behaviour

Behaviours

What thoughts lead to
this/result from this?

Thoughts

What feelings arise
before/after?

Emotion

Note the physical sensations
associated

Physical sensation

Start here

Identify avoidance/checking
behaviour

What thoughts lead to
this/result from this?

Thoughts

What feelings arise
before/after?

Behaviours

Emotion

Physical sensation

Note the physical sensations
associated

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What are some things people do when
impacted by negative body image?

Avoidance

Avoiding situations that make
us anxious.

This might make us feel better in the short term, but in the long term it can have lots of negative effects…

However, it can have detrimental effects on body image in the long term.

Checking our bodies

Repeatedly looking for changes.

This can increase negative thoughts about how we look for a number of reasons…

This may momentarily reduce anxiety.

But tends to increase negative body image thoughts over time.

Some examples of body avoidance & checking

Can you drag the correct  'avoidance' or 'checking' box to
answer the questions?

Checking our bodies
Avoidance
Answers

Looking at their body in the mirror every hour.

img

I think this is...

Drag one of the options into this box

Never looking in mirrors.

I think this is...

Drag one of the options into this box

Refusing to be hugged, to avoid their body shape being felt.

I think this is...

Drag one of the options into this box

Pinching parts of their body/measuring fat.

I think this is...

Drag one of the options into this box

Avoidance

Miss out on things that could have
given a sense of achievement or
pleasure.

Never get to checkout whether
the fears are as bad as we imagined.

Feel less motivated and less able to cope
with the situation in the future.

Feel worse and even
more anxious.

The vicious cycle of avoidance

  • Anxiety associated with body image can lead to
    avoidance behaviours.
  • This can mean missing opportunities to disprove
    the fears that fuel the anxiety in the first
    place and reinforces them instead.
  • Help your child to understand the cycle of avoidance
    they may be stuck in and consider the ways that it may be
    contributing to body image issues.

The anxiety curve

Curve
• Remind your child that anxiety does gradually reduce.
• Avoiding or leaving a situation before their body has had a chance to habituate only reinforces the idea that the situation causes anxiety.
• On the other hand, resisting the urge to avoid and repeated exposure will mean the ‘panic peak’ is felt less severely over time.

The anxiety curve helps to further illustrate the vicious cycle of avoidance.


Anxiety tends to reach a peak, where it feels at its worst.

Our bodies adjust and the anxiety gradually reduces.

When we avoid/leave the situation, anxiety
drops more quickly.

However, we miss the chance to habituate.

Curve

The vicious cycle of checking

Feel bad
about self.

Check their body/
appearance.

Think about/focus on all the parts of their appearance that they don't like.

Evaluate themselves based
on how they look
(weight/shape/eating).

The vicious cycle of checking

Feel bad
about self.

Check their body/
appearance.

Think about/focus on all the parts of their appearance that they don't like.

Evaluate themselves based
on how they look
(weight/shape/eating).

i

Increase in disordered eating
behaviours.

i

More focus on their body reinforces the belief that their body is the problem.

Activity: Index finger checking

  • If you study your index finger, you’ll become aware of details you never noticed before.
  • Take a minute to look at it. Focus on the variation in colour, wrinkles, veins, dry skin...
  • The longer we focus on something, the more we see.
  • Body checking can generate the same type of detailed- focused thoughts, which can often be negative (dependent on thinking styles – to be explored in next session).
  • Explain this phenomenon to your child to give them a greater understanding of the negative impacts of body checking and the way in which it can fuel critical thoughts.

The vicious cycle of checking

Learning other ways to cope and take care of self.

Resist body checking and replace with behaviour
that does not focus on their body.

Less focus on
their body.

Urges to use disordered eating
behaviours are
decreased.

img

Encourage your young person to select the top tips they are going to work on this week.

Body avoidance

Reflect on the extent of your child’s avoidance behaviours

Which avoidance behaviours occur? How often?
Create a small list of situations where your young person avoids their body. For each one, ask your young person to rate how distressed they would feel if they stopped avoiding them, on a scale of 0 to 100.
Perhaps pick the behaviour least distressing to stop – and begin making changes gradually.
If they would like you to acknowledge their progress and in what ways they would appreciate encouragement.

Add another top tip

img

Encourage your young person to select the top tips they are going to work on this week.

Body checking

Determine the frequency of your child’s body checking

What type of checking? How many times per day? Is your child aware of how often they might look in the mirror or measure their body?
Choose 2 or 3 checking behaviours that they would like to target.
For example, 3 times per day instead of 6 times per day, limiting behaviours (e.g. once per week instead of daily) or eliminating some behaviours altogether (e.g. stopping checking thighs).
For example, not checking body until the evening, if elimination feels too challenging as a first step.

Add another top tip

Encourage your young person to select the top tips they will work on this week.

Reducing anxiety

Remind your young person of the long-term benefit of enduring short-term anxiety

Targeting body avoidance or checking behaviours will likely give rise to anxiety in the short-term, but you are working towards a positive body image in the long term.
As the more we practice a situation, the less anxious we often feel. Facing our fears gives us a chance to test out whether they are true or not and allows us to challenge our thoughts and behaviours.

Try a deep breathing meditation...

and/or progressive muscle relaxation exercises.

Fight, flight or freeze response

This video explains how FFF-responses work, some of which may be familiar to you when experiencing high-stress situations.

Moments that trigger negative body image thoughts may be misinterpreted as a dangerous situation by our brain. Sometimes our body enters survival mode quicker than our mind can react.

Ways to turn OFF their fight or flight response 

Slow your
breathing

Relaxation strategy
e.g. progressive
muscle relaxation  

Mindfulness meditation – this helps you to develop a muscle in your mind to direct your attention where you want it to go. 

Think of one body image related fear your child is going to face after today's session

You can use your hot cross bun model to reflect on the fear that comes to mind.

Behaviours

Thoughts

Emotion

Physical sensation

Thoughts

Behaviours

Emotion

Physical sensation

Reflections

image
image
image

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References or Creators Credit

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My Notes

Supporting Videos

The Fight, Flight, Freeze Response

If you could change one thing about your body, what would it be?

Mindful Eating