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Holding In Your Stomach for that Special Occasion

17/06/2014 15:21 BST | Updated 17/08/2014 10:59 BST

Summertime tends to bring special occasions, friends' weddings and reunions, and you know how bad you feel when you receive the invite and your gut reaction is,"I'm too fat, I can't go". So the day comes and now you've got to try to find something to wear that makes you feel half decent, and you have to figure out how to hold in your stomach. I've spoken to four women this week all dreading a special occasion and feeling not-so-special because, as they see it,"I'll look fat in front of all those people".

One woman mentioned that she dived for the nearest packet of crisps and bottle of wine upon receiving the invite. Another has deliberately planned a work project which conveniently means she cannot attend, while another has decided to be really "tough" on herself for the next four weeks before her brother's wedding.

Sandra, a Heyday participant, revealed that her dread is about "being worried about other people's opinions and also that I'll feel inadequate beside them. There'll be a lot of people there that I haven't seen in a few years and I'm convinced that they'll all look fabulous and I won't".

The dread can be overwhelming, as Sandra explains, "It's like it doesn't matter how much I achieve in life. Being overweight makes me feel like I failed". How do you shake that insidious and horrible feeling? Or how can you use this timeframe (between now and that special occasion) to better understand your relationship with food? That sounds much more positive than "I must lose X amount of weight before then".

Overcoming a fat attack

1. You might be wallowing in self-criticism right now and feeling that you're not good enough or feeling helpless. Can you take a step back from the inner dialogue and that self-criticism? Can you disengage from your inner critic and start to watch your thoughts and feelings? 'I am feeling fat and terrible about myself' or 'I am telling myself that I look awful'. In this way, you are separating yourself from this inner voice. The crucial thing here is that you are disengaging from the attack. You can begin to see how nasty that voice is.

2. I wonder why you have reacted this way to this special occasion? Are you concerned about what others will think of you, or are you comparing yourself to other people who might be there? Can you tease out what so upsetting about this. Be curious about it. Putting it down on paper can help you make sense of it.

3. Can you start responding to that awful message you are giving yourself, "I can't go, I'm too fat" and start to tell yourself, "This is where I am right now. I'm doing my best to have a more healthy relationship with food. Haven't I done well over the last few weeks!" It might feel a bit false at the start, but it is so important that you challenge your inner critic and start to lift yourself out of that nasty dialogue.

There is a lesson that you can take from all of this, that instead of bringing you straight to the biscuit tin, will bring you closer to a healthy relationship with food.

Follow Dr. Bernadette Rock on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Heydayworld or check out www.facebook.com/heydayworld