How to Overcome the Shame and Guilt of Obesity and Achieve a Healthier Weight

Megan Smith
 min read

This article is about how to overcome the shame and guilt of obesity, which can negatively impact mental and emotional well-being.

Letters From Board Game That Collectively Form The Words Time For Change In Context Of Overcoming Shame And Guilt Of Obesity

People struggling with overweight or obesity might feel ashamed when going to a restaurant to enjoy a fantastic meal or when eating a chocolate ice cream in public, believing that others are judging them for their weight. 

This shame can lead to social isolation and a lack of motivation to make positive changes in their lives.

Additionally, feelings of guilt towards loved ones can further compound these emotions and make it even harder to achieve a healthier weight. 

People struggling with overweight or obesity can learn how to cope with these difficult emotions and improve their mental health.

The psychological effects of obesity are far-reaching and can be devastating. But with determination and the proper support, it is possible to overcome this difficult challenge and achieve a healthier, happier life. 

Read on to learn more about battling and overcoming the emotional obstacles of being overweight.

How to overcome the shame and guilt of obesity: Introduction

Woman With Chestnut Brown Hair In Seat With High Back With Both Hands In Front Of Her Eyes Emotionally Distressed About Her Weight Issues

Many plus-size people with overweight are ashamed and feel guilty. Learning to cope with these difficult emotions is essential when striving for a healthier weight. 

Even though there is more awareness of body positivity in society lately, a weight stigma is still attached to obesity. 

Body positivity is definitely a good thing because why shouldn't people with overweight be able to dress nicely and feel good about themselves?

It definitely helps plus-size individuals break free from their negative self-image. 

At the same time, the danger of obesity should not be minimized, as it brings many health risks, such as diabetes, heart and vascular diseases, certain cancers, etc. 

In other words, the best reason to start exercising to lose weight as a plus-sized individual is that you will feel healthier and fitter.

Overcoming emotional obstacles: Conquering shame and guilt of obesity

Ashamed of being overweight

Black And White Photo Of Overweight Man In Plaid Shirt Looking Into Lens And Looking Unhappy Due To Feelings Of Shame

People with overweight often struggle with a feeling of shame, which they project onto the outside world. 

When they go to a public swimming pool, a fancy restaurant, or eat a donut on the street, they feel watched and judged. 

They think they hear people around them thinking: "Why is this overweight person still eating unhealthily?" or "They should be embarrassed to go swimming in public"

Often, they make the situation in their head much more significant than it actually is. For example, if people look at them, they immediately assume it is because of their overweight. 

This shame greatly impacts their social life as many plus-size persons hide themselves. The more pronounced the obesity is, the more they withdraw from social relationships

For example, they do not want to go to school reunions because people from their past will see how much weight they have gained.

Or they don't apply for a job promotion because they feel self-conscious about their appearance and fear being judged because of their weight and how they look.

Feeling guilty for being obese

People with obesity also often struggle with guilt, especially towards their partner, children, and other family members. 

Plus-sized individuals feel guilty because they do not feel like a fit mother or father for their children.

People with obesity often struggle with guilt, particularly towards their partner, who may be worried about them and even secretly embarrassed by their weight. 

Or because they feel guilty because they have become dependent on their obesity. 

Young Woman With Curly Black Hair And Red Lips Resting Her Head On Her Knees With Guilt Feelings And Low Energy Level

Here are a few examples to clarify what is meant by becoming dependent on your obesity:

  • You go to the amusement park with your children where, for safety reasons, you can't go on the rides because you are too heavy.
  • You may become reliant on your obesity to avoid social situations or activities you feel self-conscious about (such as swimming, for example). 
  • Another example might be that you have become dependent on unhealthy comfort foods such as Domino's Pizza, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and burgers from Burger King. You rely on these to cope with difficult emotions and feel unable to make healthier choices for yourself.

Breaking through feelings of shame and guilt is key to achieving success in obesity treatment.

For the record: These feelings of guilt are not justified. For some people, it is just harder than for others to keep their weight under control. 

Many who are overweight or obese want to lose weight, but they often face challenges in achieving their goals.

Despite their efforts, they may find that weight loss is not always straightforward or easy to accomplish…

Vicious circle caused by depression

Sculpture By Jane Mortimer Depicting Depressed Person In Sitting Position With Knees Raised And Head Resting Against Knees

As a result, it is not surprising that more depressions occur in people struggling with overweight or obesity.

Many people with obesity struggle with depression (FYI: a gut imbalance can also cause depression), which can manifest in either reduced appetite, or increased appetite for comfort food.

This can make it challenging to make healthy choices and maintain a healthy weight.

If depressed, you may lose your motivation to exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle. This can lead to decreased physical activity, worsening feelings of fatigue and low energy. 

As a result, individuals with obesity may find it hard to maintain an exercise routine, and they eventually give up, leading to a lack of progress in their weight loss efforts.

It is a vicious circle because it's not easy to make an effort for healthy nutrition and physical activity if you feel depressed. 

And then there is the phenomenon of the yo-yo effect, which can be a significant hurdle for many with obesity as they start each new diet at a higher weight than before. 

This can be extremely frustrating and demotivating, especially when many weight loss programs fail to address the emotional challenges of overweight and obesity.

Dealing with emotions is crucial

4 White Letter Signs On Black Background Forming Sentence You Are The Change In Context Of Dealing With Intense Emotions

Learning to deal with emotions is just as important as striving for a healthier weight. 

Emotions disappear on their own after a while, but when we have a very intense emotion, we want to get rid of it quickly. 

By eating something delicious such as chocolate or cheesecake, for example, that emotion quickly fades away. Our body then produces happiness hormones, such as dopamine and serotonin. 

In other words, eating provides a biological shot of happiness. But then a new emotion comes... You might feel guilty about what you just ate, for example.

Therefore, let's discuss some practical techniques other than eating to deal with intense emotions. The question you should ask yourself is the following: 

What do I need so that the intense emotion subsides again? 

Instead of grabbing something delicious (but unhealthy) to eat, you can, for example;

  • put on other clothes to make a transition between work and private life, 
  • have a shower to wash away the emotions, 
  • go for a bike ride, 
  • take a walk with or without your lovely dog, 
  • call a friend, etc.

Dealing with emotions is key to achieving a healthier weight.

Write down what you eat in a food diary

Man Making Notes With Red Ballpoint Pen In Diary Listing Food That Was Consumed

Keeping a food diary works well for gaining control over emotional eating.

Try to keep track of when you eat, in what context, and what kind of emotion preceded it. 

This allows you to map patterns and habitual behavior that you can then work on. 

Research shows that people who keep track of their food intake can lose up to 5% more weight.

This self-monitoring process can also help you stop snacking, as you may be less likely to eat something if you know you will have to document it. 

By taking the time to write down what you eat, you may become more mindful of your food choices and make healthier decisions.

Set realistic expectations 

Realistic expectations are an essential aspect of psychological support for overweight or obese individuals. 

For example, eating a small piece of chocolate doesn't mean your whole diet goes out the window. Instead, the key is to learn to responsibly enjoy that delicious piece of chocolate without overindulging.

But even more vital is to have realistic expectations about losing weight. For example, some overweight people expect everything in their lives to improve once they manage to lose weight and weigh less. 

For example, they think their marriage will improve if that is currently a problem area. Unfortunately, these expectations are often unrealistic.

And sometimes, these high and unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment and depression.

Put your health first

Photo Of Stack Of Cardboard Folders In Various Colors With Red Folder At The Top Titled Physical Health As Human Need

Better health is the best motivation to lose weight. Feeling fit and energetic again, being able to exercise, and being able to do what you want without your weight holding you back.

What more could you want?

And the good news is that you don't have to lose much weight to achieve significant health benefits.

As a beginner, set yourself small goals. For example, losing 5 to 10 percent of your weight already yields significant health benefits, such as for conditions like diabetes or sleep apnea. 

Losing 10 percent of your weight is a very achievable and useful goal. Of course, losing even more weight is often welcome but not always necessary for your health.

How to overcome the shame and guilt of obesity: Conclusion

People who are overweight or obese often face emotional challenges, such as shame and guilt, which can hinder their efforts to achieve a healthier weight. 

However, learning how to overcome the shame and guilt of obesity is a crucial part of the journey to better health.

Finding healthy outlets for stress, such as physical activity, exercise, or talking to a supportive friend or healthcare professional, can help people manage their emotions and reach their weight loss goals

Like any other obstacles, emotional obstacles can be overcome on the journey to a healthier weight.

Addressing both emotional and physical challenges is key to improving your overall health and well-being. 

So what are you waiting for?

If you want to achieve your weight loss goals and improve your health and happiness, get started with the above tips or find professional help today!

Best of luck on your journey towards a healthier weight and a happier you!

About Megan Smith

Megan has been fighting overweight and her plus size since her teenage years. After trying all types of remedies without success, she started doing her own research. Megan founded Plus Size Zeal to share her findings. She also developed various detailed buying guides for plus-size people in order to make their lives easier and more comfortable. Read More