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  • Writer's pictureKristen Sedler

Lets Talk About Body Image


When I decided I wanted to become a Registered Dietitian, it was for the wrong reasons. I was a high school student stuck in a mindset that in order to be healthy I needed to look, eat and exercise a certain way. I was stuck in a downward spiral which eventually left me with a disordered mindset around food, and my body image hit rock bottom. When I arrived at college, I was lost and did not know what direction I wanted to go. I still loved nutrition but what I had previously thought had failed me, and left me feeling worse about myself. It wasn't until I joined a eating disorder awareness and mentoring group that I found my passion in dietetics. I started promoting body positivity, performed body image workshops and peer mentored individuals with eating disorders. Now that I have healed my relationship with food and my body, my mission is to spread the facts and help others heal their relationships with food and their bodies. Now enough about me, lets talk about the facts regarding Body Image.

Your body image is impacted by who you spend your time with.

We all have those friends or family who without fail comment on our appearance. "Have you lost/gained weight!?" is a very common question. When someone has a disordered relationship with food, comments about appearance can further enforce negative thoughts and behaviors. A study conducted in 2018 found that spending time with people who are not focused on their appearance leads to an overall better body image and relationship with food. Spending time with these individuals increases the likelihood of adopting intuitive eating and lowers the risk of getting wrapped up in diet culture. Now I am not suggesting that you drop your friends or family, but you can tell them that commenting on appearance or diets makes you uncomfortable, and that you would rather focus on other things. If they cannot respect your wishes, are they really the type of people you want to spend time with? This also applies to social media, fill your feed with positive accounts and messages, your outlook will become more positive.

"Your "diet" should be well rounded, including foods that are nourishing AND foods that are enjoyable."

The more you focus on your body the lower your body image will be.

When you begin to think that you need to change yourself and make steps towards changing your diet or integrating more exercise, you begin to base your self-worth on completing a new diet or exercise regimen. When you are complying to all the rules you may feel joy and a temporary "high". That one day you eat a food that is outside of the prescribed "diet" or you miss a workout, you feel guilty. Does this sound familiar? This is a disordered pattern and the reason why "wellness culture" and "workout programs" are damaging to both your body image and your health. Your "diet" should be well rounded, including foods that are nourishing AND foods that are enjoyable. Honestly, food is meant to be enjoyable, don't eat anything that doesn't bring you joy.

Now lets talk about why I don't like the word exercise... The word exercise gives off the thought that you need to do something that leaves you profusely sweating, and/or leaves you sore. I prefer to use the word movement. Movement can be anything from taking a walk with a friend, doing yoga, or going on a run. Movement is meant to be enjoyable, it is not meant to compensate for what you ate last night. Integrating movement is supposed to uplift your mood and connect you with your body, not the opposite. If that results in soreness or sweating, no big deal, but that should not be the goal.

Activity to do to improve body image

Pick a favorite part of you body, write it down and why its your favorite.

Whenever you feel that your body image has taken a dip you can do this to remind yourself about what you love and all that your body does for you.


Another way to do this activity is by writing what body parts you are thankful for because of the jobs they perform to keep you alive everyday.

For example: I love the rolls on my stomach because they protect my essential organs.

Listen to some of these great podcasts, or read a book that promotes positive body image and an anti-diet mindset.

My favorite podcasts:

Body Kindness with Rebecca Scritchfield: https://www.bodykindnessbook.com/podcast/


Food Psych with Christy Harrison: https://christyharrison.com/foodpsych



The Mindful Dietitian with Fiona Sutherland: https://www.themindfuldietitian.com.au/podcast


......and so many more.

My Favorite Books:

· Body Kindness (Rebecca Scritchfield)

· Nourish (Heidi Schauster)

· Body Respect (Linda Bacon & Lucy Aphramor)

· Intuitive Eating (Elyse Resch & Evelyn Tribole)

….and so many more

This post includes a small fraction of the facts and resources available about body image. There is so much more out there, feel free to reach out to me with any questions or comments.

Thank you for reading!

Warmly,

Kristen


Tired of diet culture and want to ditch the diet mentality? Lets work together!

Sources:

Kathryn Miller, Allison Kelly, Elizabeth Stephen. Exposure to body focused and non-body focused others over a week: A preliminary investigation of their unique contributions to college women’s eating and body image. Body Image, 2019; 28: 44 DOI: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2018.12.003

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