Body image can be defined as how people think and feel about their bodies, how satisfied they are with their bodies and how much stake they put into how they look (bradley.edu). Studies show that unrealistic body image is a problem that crosses gender, race, and age. Because of this, being more equipped about how to have a healthier mindset and attitude toward body image is important. Knowledge is power!
Quieting voices and negative thoughts in the mind that say your body is not okay as it is or has something wrong with it can play a big part in helping to form a healthier body image. It matters what you believe about your appearance as well as how you feel inside your body. When you find yourself beginning to tear yourself down, stop and replace these negative thoughts with positive affirmations.
Be critical of the information you take in. So much of our culture points to standards of beauty in one way or another. These are ever changing. Be careful as you are still forming who you uniquely are.
Continue to become self-aware. Those with negative body image are more likely to develop an eating disorder or struggle with depression. Find ways to reduce those negative thoughts by keeping a gratitude journal or find ways to reduce the negative stress. Talk to a friend, family member, or seek a counselor who can help.
Bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Admiring others’ beauty can improve your own body confidence but it is important to appreciate your own unique self. Avoid comparing yourself to others, accept yourself as a whole. Many media images you see show unrealistic ideals for body shape and size. Respect what your unique body can do!
Focus on adding in food, not eliminating food. When we focus on the positive aspects of food, the energy it provides to be active and think clearly, the vitamins and minerals it provides to nourish our bones, muscles, and organs like the heart, we can shift the focus from the negative, “avoidance” talk.
Find enjoyable ways to move. Our bodies are very powerful and can move in many ways. Exercise doesn’t have to be a form of punishment. Activities like yoga, hiking, karate, and even simply meditating can provide stress relief but also a way to see and appreciate the body in motion.
Coming to peace with our bodies is critical to healing our relationship with our eating habits, food, and ourselves. Our relationship with food often mirrors our relationships with our bodies, mind, self-esteem, and body image, others, and the world around us. A broken or dysfunctional relationship with food could indicate low self-esteem and poor body image. When one views themselves as worthless they don’t believe their body is valuable, special, or worthy of nourishment.
NOAH Behavioral Health Counselors and Registered Dietitians can help in these areas. We are an integrated health care facility with primary medical care, pediatrics, internal medicine, dental, psychiatric, behavioral health, and nutrition services. NOAH providers can assess and help formulate a treatment plan that addresses holistic needs of individuals with eating disorders. If you have concerns that you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, please schedule an appointment with one of our providers and discuss your concerns.
Additional resources to help:
National Eating Disorders Association: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org//screening-tool