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Body Image & Disordered Eating: Learning to Process Your Experiences

For me, a negative body image ran much deeper than simply wanting to be thin. Disordered eating did, too. For so many of us, part of our body image or eating issues stems from the inability to process our emotions and experiences. We might stuff down painful emotions with food or blame our bodies for our lack of happiness.

If you do this, the good news is that you can learn to identify and process your emotions and experiences in healthy ways. It’s simply a skill that takes practice.

So as promised, I’m happy to be able to publish Susan Kleinman’s worksheet entitled, “Cognitive Markers: A Guide to Process Experiences,” with her permission.

So take out your journal or a piece of paper and work through the below steps when you can. Feel free to share your experience doing the activity below.

By the way, if you haven’t checked out Susan’s interview yet, please do. You can read part one about dance/movement therapy and part two about reconnecting with yourself.

Use the Cognitive markers as a guide to process your experiences. Keep your descriptions simple and remember that these are YOUR feelings and thoughts and you cannot make a mistake. Imagine that you are a detective, collecting clues to solve a mystery- the mystery of your experiences (one at a time).  Good luck!!


Write about your experience by exploring and noting feelings, sensations and subsequent thoughts that are emerging from it.


Write about your awareness of your feelings and sensations as well as any observations you’ve noticed regarding what you have just explored. What did you discover? Be as specific as possible.


Acknowledge that your discovery has meaning in your life or if not, why you think you made this discovery and it is not relevant in your life.


Recognize HOW the feelings, sensations and thoughts you’ve discovered and acknowledged are important in relation to your present experiences, fit into your life, and parallel past similar experiences.


Sum up this experience noting any issues you think are important that you want to note for further exploration  including questions or things that you found interesting. Also, identify actions you might take, or strategies you might use to further help you deal with these issues.

Remember to give yourself permission to explore & discover new ways to cope with these old problems and patterns as well as to begin to include these new tools as part of your growing repertoire of skills. Then, you’ll begin to have new connections to add to your experiences.

Developed by Susan Kleinman, 1977 (C) 2001 Susan Kleinman

Body Image & Disordered Eating: Learning to Process Your Experiences

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2010). Body Image & Disordered Eating: Learning to Process Your Experiences. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2019, from


Last updated: 23 Sep 2010
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