You cannot make peace with food when you are at war with your body. Your body image and eating habits are so intrinsically linked – one really does affect the other. When you don’t feel the need to change your body shape and size you are more relaxed around food, and don’t feel the need to eat solely for the purpose of changing your body.
Loving your body doesn’t come easy so let’s start with appreciating, and being respectful of, your body.
Did you know that in a study of 320 women, of varying ages, it was found that 30% of the women would trade 1 year of their life to be their ideal body shape and weight. That’s 1 in every 3 women.
10% would trade 2-5 years of their life
2% would trade 6-10 years of their life
1% would trade 21 years or more of their life
93% had negative thoughts about their appearance during the past week.
31% had negative thoughts several times a day
These are very scary figures but unsurprising when the world tells us we should look a certain way. We believe that.
The negative thoughts around your body, when you aren’t happy, I get it.
I understand how this impacts on your life:
- Getting up in the morning and seeing yourself in the mirror.
- The awful experience that clothes shopping can be.
- When there are things you can’t do or won’t do because your body ‘gets in the way’.
- Having a long term loving relationship, but still feeling like you have to hide your body away because ‘how can it possibly be attractive, or even sexy’?
So it can be so difficult to be positive about your body. But I promise you, once you can change that mindset it will change so much for you:
- Your outlook on your day
- Your mood
- What you choose to wear
- What activities and events you take part in
- Your confidence in your intimate relationships
- Your relationship with food
Unfortunately there’s not some kind of switch where you can go from really disliking yourself to absolutely loving yourself overnight. This stuff takes work, and time. So, wherever you are starting, you are going to strive for respect and appreciation for your body. A place of neutrality. A place where you actually want to take care of it.
Blaming the body
We place so much blame our bodies when we feel low. When we’re on the scales, clothes shopping, exercising, travelling, going to social gatherings, we blame our bodies for not being good enough. Or we blame ourselves and say things like maybe the criticisms and jokes from others are right, and that we have let ourselves go and we should do something about it. But it’s simply not true. Look back at day 1, and all those outside influences that are diet culture.
And actually, the onus is on everyone BUT you.
- It’s the responsibility of the venues, of the transport companies, of the employer, to provide facilities that are suitable for all.
- It is the responsibility of the beauty industry and the media to start representing all bodies.
- It is the responsibility of healthcare providers to be better educated.
- It is the responsibility of your friends and family to have a better understanding and be more accepting of people in all bodies.
So the blame game stops now. It stops here and now.
Whatever your personal circumstances, abilities and disabilities, age, history, those things don’t matter here. You can still give appreciation for what your body can do, despite any restrictions you may have.
What could you be grateful for that isn’t related to the way your body looks?
- Do you really like your eyes – full lashes, eye colour, grateful for your sight
- Can you appreciate your arms and hands for giving you the ability to carry a child, hug someone, carry your shopping, allow you to do your job
- May you don’t like your torso, belly, or hips, but can you have an appreciation for your core holding you strong, for carrying/birthing a baby, for being soft and squidgy and a lovely place for your partner to lay their head?
- What about your legs & feet? Do they carry you around? Do the muscles support you? Do they allow you to do different types of movement?
- Maybe you have skin that you don’t like, but can you appreciate it for being an amazing organ that controls the temperature of your body, protects you, is sensory, is part of your immune system?
What can you start to do today so that you can start feeling good about that wonderful body of yours?
- Aim for acceptance and neutrality. You don’t have to love your body, but try to accept it as it is
- Stop blaming your body, instead treat it with compassion and kindness
Do nice things things for your body
- Basic self care, hygiene
- Self care treats – take a bath or go for a spa day
- Buy nice products
- Wear clothes that fit properly and are comfortable
- Do things that make your body feel good, like dancing
Do nice things that will help with your thoughts around your body
- Follow HAES informed people
- Say nice things to yourself in the mirror each day
- Write little notes to yourself
When all this comes into play you will feel so much more positive about yourself as a whole, rather than focussing on one or two parts.
Then in turn, as a byproduct of that, you will start having a more relaxed relationship with food because then there’s not so much of a drive to eat in a way that affects the shape of your body, so you can focus on enjoying the actual food.
- What negative views do you hold about your body right now?
- What do you think life would be like if you didn’t hold those views any more?
- How do you feel about accepting your body as it is now, and not trying to change it any more?
- What can you appreciate about your body?
Here is today’s affirmation. Take it and use it for yourself.
“There is only one of me“
Feel free to journal your thoughts and your task answers for yourself in private, or feel free to put your thoughts in the comments section here.