Presently, the majority of Americans grow up watching and hearing that their appearance is inferior and not good enough when compared to the “ideal” body. This leads to fear of judgment, insecurity, and body disgust—possibly resulting in avoiding romantic relationships and friendships. Other individuals may be afraid to apply for jobs due to fear of being negatively evaluated regarding their shape and/or size.
Repeated over and over, the internalized message is restriction, ignoring body hunger/fullness cues, over-exercising, and obsessive thoughts. Social media further enhances these messages as pictures and posts are filled with vegetables, workout videos, and latest diet ideas. Similar, “clean” eating moralizes and degrades food as either acceptable or non-acceptable, and implies dirt or filth if not categorized as “clean.” “Cheat” days also signal or imply a crime has been committed and therefore sets negative associations with food.
The goal is eating balanced and nutritious foods with the intention of maintaining a healthy heart and body. Likewise, trusting intuitively body signals. In order to increase self-love, combat internal body anxiety, and reduce external messages, consider these 4 tools:
- Start to build self-trust: rather than fighting your body, listen to it. Focus on your cravings rather than labeling food as good or bad. Instead of using a clock, eat when you are hungry and remember it is a process.
- Practice loving yourself exactly the way you are today. Do not put it off. Your worth is not defined by a number or a size. Remember the amazing things your body allows you to do daily.
- Identity triggers for body anxiety; is it a word, person, situation, picture, or action. For example, have a doctor blind weigh you if you don’t want to know your weight or if it could be triggering.
- Choose your feed and models rather than changing your food; remove followers who contribute to feelings of body shaming. Choose body advocates and individuals who support body positivity.