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Session 3

Professionals – Body Image and Healthy Eating

Session 3

Behaviours & anxiety

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Session 3
Behaviours & Biology

Have you noticed any body image behaviours in your young person?

From session 2 set 3 goals to help your
young person 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

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

The Vicious Cycle of Avoidance

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  1. Avoidance

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

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

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

  5. 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.
  • Consider the ways that a cycle of
    avoidance may contribute to
    body image issues.

The Anxiety Curve

Curve
• Remind your YP 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 & repeated exposure will mean the ‘panic peak'

The anxiety curve helps to further illustrate the viscous 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 phenomena to your YP 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 your body

Less focus on
your body

Urges to use disordered eating
behaviours are
decreased

img

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

Body avoidance

Reflect on the extent of their 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 shopped avoiding them, on a scale of 0 to 100.
...by choosing the least distressing behaviour to try and stop.
...if they'd like them to acknowledge their progress or encourage them to carry out the above.

Add another top tip

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

Body checking

Determine the frequency of their body checking...

...What type of checking? How many times per day? Are you aware of how often they might look in the mirror or measure their body?
...that they would like to target.
...(e.g. 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).
...e.g. 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 your 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 you can help your young person face after today's session

Your young person can use the 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

Well Done!

- Completed
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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