If you’re often preoccupied with negative thoughts about your body, you’re not alone. In a sample of 50,000 adults, 41% of men and 60% of women thought they were too heavy and were self-conscious about their weight. In our thin-obsessed society, it’s normal (and almost encouraged) to feel bad about your body. Unsurprisingly, poor body image is linked to low self esteem and low confidence, meaning that many of us tie our self-worth to our weight. In reality, you are SO much more than a number on a scale or a clothing size! By changing your mindset around your body, you can significantly lessen body dissatisfaction and improve your self confidence.
First, it’s important to acknowledge that you are not the problem. The problem stems from what the anti-diet and body positive movements have labeled “diet culture” - a standard for how our bodies should look and how we should eat that society promotes and reinforces. If someone’s body falls within that standard (often called the “thin ideal”), they are typically more accepted than someone whose body does not. Those who are heavier than the thin ideal often face fatphobia and weight stigma in their daily lives. Given that set of circumstances, it makes perfect sense that many of us stress over maintaining an acceptable body.
Most of us try to reach the thin ideal by dieting. We restrict our calories, fat, and/or carbs, fast, work out, and avoid eating “bad” foods. Unfortunately, the research has shown that diets don’t work. Most studies report that 90-97% of people who lose weight through dieting will regain it within two to five years, which means that the vast majority most of the time, diets do not result in long-term weight loss. Instead, they result in food and body preoccupation, overeating and bingeing, lower self-esteem, weight cycling, and disordered eating behaviors and eating disorders.
If you spend a lot of time feeling guilt and shame over “failing” at dieting, it’s time to recognize the truth: you didn’t fail the diet; the diet failed you. If you feel prepared to challenge diet culture in your own life, look into intuitive eating. Intuitive eating is a self-care eating framework developed by two registered dietitians. It’s structured around 10 principles that focus on making peace with food, removing the morality from the eating experience, and reconnecting with your body’s natural intuition, such as your hunger and fullness cues.
Whether you feel ready to reject dieting or not, taking care of your relationship with your body is critical for your self-esteem, confidence, and long-term happiness.
The road to repairing your relationship with your body is a long one that requires a great deal of self reflection. Here are some actions you can take right now to start off on the right foot:
As you dig into the roots of your body image, you’ll likely uncover a lot about your identity, your past, and the way you think of yourself and relate to others. It’s a lot to process by yourself, and it can be helpful to have the support of a caring professional. A therapist who is weight inclusive, body-positive, anti-diet can help you separate yourself from diet culture, as well as separate your self worth from the size of your body. At Medens Health, our staff is composed of warm, caring professionals who can walk alongside you on this journey.
If you or someone you know is looking for help with body image issues in California or Nevada, you can reach out to us by phone or text at (833) 624-5400, send us a message using our online contact form, or to register as a new patientget started here.
The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance on any information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical or mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who is qualified to give you safe, professional, and ethical advice regarding your mental health.
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