As you guys know – much of my teenage life was spent being a fad dieter and being a totally weight obsessed little girl. As a result, my body image was down in the dumps. My weight defined myself worth.
… And every day is a battle to keep my body image healthy and positive because I spent so many/too many years hating on my body. It almost became a part of me.
I have spent the last few years in therapy trying to heal this. I have come a very long way. But I am absolutely still healing and love writing about this journey in my books/on the blog because I know so many of you can relate.
Anxiety around food and body causes huge amounts of mind-body stress, making it very hard for you to heal your life. It’s an epidemic, and weight has become a marker of self-worth. It causes us to be incredibly nasty to ourselves, ruining our relationships with our bodies in the process.
We’re imperfect people, and we all eat badly sometimes. But it’s not worth stressing about. We just need to learn how to handle anxious or guilty food/body moments. If you want to repair that relationship, you have to try to make peace with your weight and your unique body. That’s the starting point.
Strive to be fit, healthy and sexy, with a weight that’s sustainable. It’s not realistic to aim for the same weight you were at when you were 15 or 17 years old. Your body adapts and responds to different stages: puberty, fertility, pregnancy, menopause. Accept this. Focus on looking and feeling your best NOW. Some days I catch myself criticizing every body part in the mirror or a photo of myself. It can be so tortuous. Being so self-aware and hyper critical is so dangerous.
I also sometimes catch myself feeling anxious and guilty around food – mainly during travel. My old demons pop up! The minute I am out of my comfort zones – it worsens. However its 90% better than it used to be – scary!
And if you have some form of disordered eating/body image stuff – you must know that to some degree it may always be a part of you. It never really leaves you. But I am so passionate about helping people find the tools to cope with it and to ultimately developer a kinder relationship with their bodies – to the point where body/food anxiety decreases (it may never fully go away – but there are great ways to manage it).
I feel very lucky to have the tools in my box these days to deal with anxious body moments:
The next time you can’t stop thinking about something you ate, take a deep breath and follow these tips.
- Dissolve the negative thought by giving it attention and love. Don’t judge it. Just accept it as opposed to getting angry for having the thought. You’re allowed to think! Be kind.Just being aware of these negative thoughts is the first step to turning them around.
- Remind yourself that food is just food. Focus on what really matters in your life.
- Go into a forward fold as soon as you can.
- Think positively. Instead of saying, “I can’t believe I ate that entire bag of nuts,” say, “I know my body is strong enough to break down my food. Tomorrow is a new day.”
- Jot down a list of eating/lifestyle adjustments that will help you to feel better about yourself. For instance: drink less alcohol for two weeks, go to yoga twice this week and don’t eat anything out of a packet.
- Give up the all-or-nothing mentality around food. Strike for balance and moderation, not perfection – it does not exist.
- Head to a yoga class.
- Write down five things about yourself that you love.
Side bubble: Say these affirmations loud and proud
“I trust my body.”
“I am good enough.”
“I am balanced.”
“My body can handle imperfect eating”
How to heal in the long term
- Get more sleep. A lack of sleep makes everything seem a whole lot worse. Prevent irrational thoughts by heading to bed at a reasonable hour (I suggest lights out by 10pm) and sleeping for at least 8 hours.
- Eat a balanced diet, full of nourishing nutrients. When you eat well, you feel well.
- Write down the parts of your body you feel grateful for. I like to keep this list in the notes app on my phone. I wake up every morning and feel grateful for 5 body parts.
- Create a plan of action for when the shaming strikes. If you’re not feeling great about yourself, steer clear of mirrors and go into a forward fold right away. To do this, sit on the floor and lean over your body. Breathe deeply and give thanks for your health and the body parts you like. If you can’t think of any, thank your legs for carrying you every day or your heart for beating life into your body. Keep breathing deeply until the feeling passes.
- Let go of the desire to have a perfect body – it does not exist. Choose to live a wholesome, happy and balanced life instead. I was so unhappy when I was at my skinniest.
- Stop comparing yourself to others. My advice is to delete those Instagram and Facebook accounts of ‘models’ who are airbrushed and photoshopped to the max. Go on a social media detox for a while if you can. And throw out the magazines that make you feel insecure, because guess what? The girl in the magazine doesn’t even look like the girl in the magazine!
- Surrender to what it is. Your body wants your love, so make the decision to stop fighting it. The quicker you accept your body shape as it is, the better it will be able to heal so you can go on with your awesome life.
Do you experience the same sort of emotions around food? How do you deal with food anxiety when it hits? Here for you – let’s grow together #realtalk