What is body dysmorphia? The condition Chris Moyles has been affected by explained

Chris Moyles pictured for I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here 2022. (ITV)
Chris Moyles first spoke about having body dysmorphia after losing weight. (ITV)

Radio DJ and TV presenter Chris Moyles, 48, has opened up about his weight loss journey – something that was followed with body dysmorphia – since being in the I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! jungle.

"I once bought a microwavable kebab. From what I remember it tasted alright. But back then I was eating all sorts of crap. I didn’t necessarily eat a lot but what I did eat was all bad. All bad," Moyles told his campmates in an earlier episode, explaining his old lifestyle.

In terms of his turning point, he said, "A mixture of things. I climbed Kili [Mount Kilimanjaro]. I was 17.5 stone at Christmas and we were climbing in March. I got down to 16 [before we went]. Climbed Kili and lost a stone in a week."

Moyles climbed the mountain in 2009 with other celebrities including Cheryl Cole, Kimberly Walsh, Fearne Cotton, Alesha Dixon, and Ronan Keating.

"I sat at 15 [stone] for ages and I had a trainer, and one day I just went, 'It’s a waste of time this training, I’m not losing any weight' and he just barked at me, 'That’s because your diet’s shit!' So we had a big chat…I fell down to 12 stone really quickly. 10 years ago [that was]," he added.

It was after his weight loss, that he discussed a condition commonly referred to as body dysmorphia, also known as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). While they are two separate things entirely, some experience signs of the condition after weight changes.

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Chris Moyles before and after weight loss photos. (Getty Images)
Chris Moyles lost six stone, pictured in 2006 (L) and 2016 (R). (Getty Images)

Moyles opened up about the mental health condition after shedding the six stone, admitting that he ate "very little", and was weighing himself daily and eating very little during the weekdays.

Speaking to Ross Kemp on his podcast, The Kempcast, in August 2020, he said, "Before lockdown, Monday, Wednesday, Friday I would do the show [Radio X], we would have a quick meeting... and then I'd get to the gym and I'd train 11-12 or 11-1, depending on how fat I was feeling. I'm feeling really fat at the moment."

"I'm fascinated by body dysmorphia because I really have an issue with body dysmorphia, which I think most people do. I've lost six stone from my worst weight when I was 18 stone," he added.

"I know my body really well now, and I'm still learning. I don't have the metabolism of an 18-year-old girl or boy, I just don't.

"People don't believe me, but I weigh myself six days a week, and I know you shouldn't and I know it's not for everyone, but I do that so I can learn about how my body works.

"I will train Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and I will watch what I eat and I'll eat very little. I do intermittent fasting and I'll eat at 6:30pm or 7pm and I'll be fine. I need to do that from the weekends that I have.”

He detailed at the time how he was "really good" during the weeks and then at the weekends would go out for dinner and drinks. The DJ explained how it’s not unusual for him to put on anywhere from six to 10 pounds after each weekend.

"It's not fat, it's just bloat, it's just water retention and by the Friday the next week that ten pounds will have gone and maybe a bit more if I've worked hard enough, maybe a little bit less, but it will go."

But what exactly is the condition that led him to 'feel fat'?

Read more: The most common mental health conditions - and where to get help

What is body dysmorphia?

People with the mental health condition will spend a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance, according to the NHS. It can seriously affect everyday life, causing issues with work, social life and relationships.

These perceived flaws are often unnoticeable to others, as it is more about how someone sees themselves. It doe not, however, mean you're vain or self-obsessed, and it can cause a lot of upset.

Anyone of any age and gender can have body dysmorphia, but it's most common in teenagers and young adults.

Body dysmorphia symptoms

According to the health service, you might have body dysmorphia if you:

  • worry a lot about a specific area of your body (particularly your face)

  • spend a lot of time comparing your looks with other people's

  • look at yourself in mirrors a lot or avoid mirrors altogether

  • go to a lot of effort to conceal flaws – for example, by spending a long time combing your hair, applying make-up or choosing clothes

  • pick at your skin to make it 'smooth'

It can also lead to depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

Help for body dysmorphia

Young woman speaking to smiling GP. (Getty Images)
If you're worried you have symptoms of body dysmorphia, don't delay in speaking to your GP. (Getty Images)

While body dysmorphia can have a big impact on your everyday life, there are ways to help manage it and recover.

"People often come to me with body dysmorphia – particularly teenagers – and I always challenge their negative beliefs to try to put more positive ones in place,” explains psychotherapist, Christine Elvin.

"In a world of Instagram filters and apps that change the way you look with the press of a button, it’s really important for us to remember that airbrushing and photoshopping exist and for us not to be blinkered by what we consider the ‘perfect’ body’".

If you think you have body dysmorphia, the first step is to speak to your GP, who will ask you some questions, and either offer treatment themselves or refer you to a mental health specialist.

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you might benefit from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT`), be offered a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), or CBT together with an SSRI.

Elvin, who practices CBT counselling with her clients, adds, "I look to find out what triggers body dysmorphia and work from there. It can be anything from low self-esteem, unhealthy beliefs growing up or bad experiences at school.

"Try looking for five things that make you feel good about yourself each day. You might be surprised at what you find written on those pages."

Body dysmorphia causes

Although anyone can be affected by the condition, there are causes that can make you more susceptible to it.

If a family member suffers from body dysmorphia, depression or OCD, you’re genetically more likely to follow suit. Equally, a chemical imbalance in the brain and a past traumatic experience can trigger it.

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There is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about if you think you might have the condition, and speaking to your GP is crucial for getting the help you need.

You can also refer yourself directly to an NHS psychological therapies service (IAPT).

The Body Dysmorphic Foundation has a useful directory of local and online BDD support groups.

If you need someone to talk to, you can call Samaritans any day or time on 116 123, or email jo@samaritans.org for a response within 24 hours.

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