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Session 4

Professionals – Body Image and Healthy Eating

Session 4

Thinking styles

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Session 4

Unhelpful thinking

Thoughts are simply thoughts.

They cannot harm us, unless we let them.

We can choose to let thoughts go.

We can view them
as reality or recognise
them for what
they are: thoughts.

We can choose how we want to respond.


It impacts how we feel and what we do as a result of that thought.


Having gained insight into the matter, you can decide the next best steps to change the way you think and process thoughts for the better.

Thinking styles

The types of language we use in relation
to our bodies is very important.

The hot cross bun model




Physical sensation

Exploring unhelpful thinking styles can help your YP to
gain insight into the mental traps they may fall into.

These can significantly impact our lives!

Thoughts vs. facts

I'm too fat.

What does my GP say?

We all experience certain ‘cognitive distortions’ because of the experiences, practices or influences we’ve had in the past. Let’s consider what these might include!

If we learn to change the way we think, we’re able to better control our responses.

If I eat this bagel, I
will gain 10 pounds.

A bagel does not constitute enough calories for significant weight gain.

Unhelpful thinking


Black and white thinking

Thinking in absolutes, for example thinking you are always a failure or always right.

"This food is good."
"This food is bad."

"If I’m not perfect, I
have failed."


"Where is this
on a scale of


Seeing a pattern based upon a single event,or being overly broad in the conclusions we draw.

"Everything is always rubbish"

"Everything in my life is horrible because my body is horrible."

"Nothing good ever happens."


"Am I exaggerating the bad stuff? Did nothing good happen
at all?"

Mental filter

Only paying attention to certain types of evidence
e.g. noticing failures but not success.

"When I look in the mirror all I see is things
about my body I don’t like – not noticing how clear my skin is etc."



"Am I filtering out the positives?"
"Am I wearing my negative glasses?"


Emotional reasoning

Concluding that one's emotional reaction proves something is true, despite contrary evidence.

"I feel guilty when I eat biscuits, therefore biscuits must be bad and I must be guilty."


Remind your YP: feelings are a reaction
to thoughts, which are automatic brain reflexes…

Just because it feels bad doesn’t mean it is…

Jumping to conclusions

Forming an opinion or judgement
without all the facts needed to do so.


Ask yourself:

"Am I assuming I know what others are thinking? Those are my own thoughts, not theirs."

Instead, remind yourself:

Am I really thinking I can predict the future? Am I catastrophising – thinking the worst possible thing will happen? What is more likely to happen?

Disqualifying the positives

Rejecting positive experiences
by insisting they ‘don’t count’ for some
reason or another.


The internal bully is at it again.
What would my best friend say?

What is a more balanced way
of looking at this?

"They are only complimenting me because they feel sorry for me."

"I only passed the exam because it's easy."

"They are only telling me I look good because they feel sorry for me."


Identifying with a specific self-image
based on a one-off incident or mistake made.


One word is too
simplistic! What is a more balanced way to look at it?

Labelling and mislabelling
Failed Once
Late for a few minutes
Does not respond the way I want

Your young person creates a negative self image based
on the errors they made.

Should statements

You create pressure to yourself by saying
"I should do this" or "I must do that"

Should statements

Notice how often 'I should' or 'I must' occurs in your YP's thinking.

"I should only eat 'healthy' foods."

"I should exercise


Am I setting impossible


Thinking styles quiz

Can you drag the correct answer box to answer the questions?

I did my homework but forgot to bring it to school; I’m so stupid.

I think this is...

Drag one of the options into this box

I’m not a size small, so I must be large.

I think this is...

Drag one of the options into this box

I feel self-conscious and think when people are looking at me, they are judging my body.

I think this is...

Drag one of the options into this box

I had pizza for lunch, I’ve been really unhealthy today.

I think this is...

Drag one of the options into this box

I have my friend’s birthday party, so I’m going to overeat.

I think this is...

Drag one of the options into this box

I feel fat, therefore I must be fat.

I think this is...

Drag one of the options into this box
Labelling and mislabelling
Mind reading
Fortune telling
Emotional reasoning
Black and white thinking


What thinking styles do you notice in yourself?
How do these thoughts make you feel?

Challenging their thoughts

See how it feels to challenge these thoughts...

"Everyone will laugh at me."


Evidence for the thought

  • I think I look bad.

    I think I look silly.

    People can be mean and will find how I'm looking/behaving funny.

Evidence against the thought

  • I don’t know what they will think –
    I can’t tell the future or read minds!

    I’ve never actually had a whole room
    of people laughing at me.

    People tend to be more focused
    on themselves.

Activity: Think about your YP's thought

Weigh up evidence for and against a thought they have, that a part of them considers to be FACT e.g. "They will laugh at me."

photo photo photo

Evidence for the thought


Evidence against the thought


Ask your YP these questions to get to the bottom of the thought and reflect on any unhelpful thinking styles they may be adopting.

Select the ones they might want to use in the future.

Why am I thinking this way?

Is this thought helpful right now?

Is my thought based on facts?

Do I have evidence to back up my thought?

What are the facts?

What will the effects of my thinking be on my feelings and behaviour?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of my thought?

What is the worst thing that could happen and is it really that likely?

If the worst thing happened, would it really be that bad or can I cope somehow?

What would I tell my friend in the same situation?

What is a realistic way of thinking about the situation based on the fact?

What are the effects of thinking this realistic thought?

Support your young person to challenge their inner critic and increase positive thoughts by creating a
Positive Self-Talk Wheel or Jar!

WHEEL: Spin the wheel and repeat out loud the self-care mantra.

JAR: Write quotes or positive activities your young person likes to do, keep in a jar and choose one or two per day.
Example quote: 'The most powerful thing anyone could say to us, is what we say to ourselves' - Christine D'Ercole
Example activity: spending time with a friend.

I can get through anything

I love every part of my body

I am filled with strength

I am worthy of love and respect

I am brilliant and beautiful

I am proud of myself

I deserve the best life has to offer

I am capable of so much

I am just perfect the way I am

I can accomplish anything




Well Done!

- Completed
You have

References or Creators Credit


My Notes

Supporting Videos

The Fight, Flight, Freeze Response

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

Mindful Eating