In a study by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, one out of 10 obese adults thought they were at a normal weight, even though they were overweight. They had a distorted image of their body. It also affect those on the other end of the spectrum. Those with anorexia or another eating disorder have a distorted view of their body, thinking they are overweight. They struggle with interoception.
What is interoception?
Interoception is the awareness of the internal state of your body. It tells us of our emotions, pain, thirst, hunger, and body temperature. But not everyone receives those internal cues the same.
The number of adolescent males and females with distorted body image is widespread and continues to rise, and it doesn’t go away when they reach adulthood. One out of 20 Americans suffers from an eating disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, or other clinical body image disturbance.
Studies are revealing that women with higher interoceptive skills have better body image. They are better able to tell when they are hungry or full and have a less-distorted view of themselves when they look in the mirror. Someone lacking interoception may be emaciated but view their bodies as normal or even large.
Pairing mindfulness training with cognitive behavioral training and other treatments have been shown to enhance quality of life and decrease symptoms for those with eating disorders and body image disorders. Practicing mindfulness is one way to work on your interoception. Yoga and meditation are ways to become more attuned to your body. You can become more aware of your hunger or fullness and focus on being fully present in the moment without judgment.