5 Ways to Shift Negative Body Image & Start to Love Your Body
There’s a reason why food and body are always coupled together in discussion. It’s rare to struggle with one but not the other. In fact, food addiction and negative body image usually go hand in hand. For many people, it’s their beliefs about their body or themselves that fuel their disordered eating behaviors.
Many of the symptoms of food addiction and binge eating can spiral into body hate or negative body image. For instance, always thinking about food – to the point that it’s literally the first thing you think about each morning and the last thing you think about every night. Another symptom is always planning your next meal or “treat.” Perhaps you can’t control yourself around food, especially junk food. Maybe you’re prone to using food as a reward.
Food Addiction and Negative Body Image
The more you struggle with food addiction and binge eating, the more likely it is to affect your physicality, and therefore your body image. If you’re constantly overeating, you may gain weight, feel bloated, or be lethargic and low energy. When you always feel terrible, you start to blame your body for feeling so poorly and being stuck in the diet/binge cycle. Soon, you may blame your body for your overall unhappiness. Your body becomes the enemy, and this just adds fuel to the fire of negative body image. In some cases, I’ve had clients who actually use binge eating as a form of self-punishment, especially when they hate their body. They’ll even go as far as constantly over-exercising in the gym to “balance out” poor eating habits.
The good news is that it’s possible to shift negative body image and learn to accept and love your body. In fact, it’s not only possible, but necessary, to sustain recovery. Recovery starts in the mind and heart – it starts with your thoughts, beliefs, self-talk, and the stories you tell yourself daily.
Here are five ways to shift negative body image so you can start to love your body:
- Realize that your body is an innocent bystander. It’s not your body that craves junk food and binges, it’s your mind. Your behaviors are fueled by your beliefs.
- Become aware of how you think about your body. Start to observe your thoughts – how do you talk to yourself? How do you think about yourself and your body? What are the main beliefs that fuel your negative body image?
- Start to counter negative thought patterns. Once you’re aware of the core beliefs that fuel your struggle, start to counter them. For example, if your main story is, “My body is disgusting and useless,” counter that with a new belief, “I am in the process of accepting my body and recognizing how incredible it is.”
- Throw out your scale. Stop weighing yourself every day and dissecting every single “flaw” in the mirror. The number on the scale or the size of your jeans does not determine your worth as a human. If checking on your progress daily sends you into a negative spiral, ditch that trigger and focus on appreciating your body how it is right now.
- Be grateful. Gratitude is one of the most transformational tools, especially when it comes to body image. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong with your body, take some time to reflect on what you appreciate about your body. There are more things than you realize beyond weight and looks – the ability to birth new life, eyes to see the beautiful blue sky, strong legs that take you where you need to go, ears that allow you to hear the voices of your loved ones and your favorite songs.
Moving Past Negativity
Shifting negative body image will get you one step closer to real, lasting recovery, because your beliefs and mindset drive your behaviors. When healing and change is founded in positivity and love, it is much more sustainable than changing from a place of fear or self-loathing. Your recovery should be based in doing what’s best for yourself because you love yourself and want to thrive, not trying to fix yourself out of desperation.
So stop hating on your body. Your incredible vessel has been and will always be your life-long companion. It’s like your built in best friend who has been there with you through literally everything, including recovery. Think of all the trials and tribulations you’ve endured. Think of the best experiences of your life. Think of all of the amazing things you get to experience each and every day – all thanks to your body and the incredible, involuntary feats that it pulls off every second. Your body isn’t the enemy, it’s the vessel for your healing and transformation.