In a recent interview I was asked about what is my number 1 tip people can do to change their relationship with food and their body. The interviewer asked me if it’s about improving your self care, learning about intuitive eating principles, practicing mindfulness, ditching diets etc.
While all of those are definitely helpful in improving your relationship with food and your body- truth be told- within a gazillion things I did to ‘save myself’, there’s one common denominator:
I changed my thinking first and foremost.
I gave up the thinking that resulted in fearing food and hating my body.
Let’s be real here: It’s the thinking that fuels the behaviour. In other words if you keep believing those ‘junky’ thoughts (e.g. ‘Fat people are all unhealthy’) you’ll only engage in that ‘junky’ behaviour (e.g. Go on yet another diet to avoid getting fat so you’re therefore ‘healthy’)
Recovering from feeling crazy around food and your body requires you to re-think what it is you believe you ‘should’ think.
It involves deciding for yourself what to believe, without thinking you ‘should’ buy into public opinion.
It requires you to trust that public opinion might not actually be ‘correct’ in and of itself.
It requires you to think of and for yourself.
It requires you to set your own definitions, beliefs and opinions.
So ask yourself: What do you want to believe?
…..Even if there’s a possibility it might not be all that believable right now, what unhelpful beliefs do you want to re-write?
Even just allowing yourself to wonder what other possibilities you could believe (even if embodying them seems to be as hard as climbing Everest) can be a very empowering process alone.
Because the truth is that unless you change your thoughts, changing your behaviour is like taking a ‘stab in the dark’.
It might work out momentarily, for some months, possibly even a few years. But what I do know is, is that long lasting change requires strong foundations and the strongest foundation you have is changing how you think about the VERY issues that are getting you stuck in the first place.
The best advice I have for you is to DO THE BODY IMAGE WORK. By this I theoretically mean educate, educate and educate yourself some more around the plethora of discrimination, sexism and injustice within the women’s body image arena.
None of this is a quick ’10 tips’ fix (sorry). It has taken you years to learn what you currently know, so it’s only reasonable to suggest that un-learning (un-brrianwashing) these unhelpful thoughts will take some time too.
For anyone who wants some practical advice to try alongside doing the body image work (i.e. What are you reading? Who are you following on social media? What conversations are you having? What are you watching? etc. More here), make a list of thought patterns you’re thinking about and telling yourself which are keeping you stuck in ‘stucksville’. Write them down and challenge these. Object object object!!! Whether it’s based on anecdotal evidence (e.g. some of my fattest friends are the women in my life who haven’t had menstrual, fertility or other health issues), research or even based on ‘hope’- this deep seated desire to ‘want to’ believe something is true, because hey, your sanity is important within all of this, object those beliefs in whatever way feels helpful to you.
It goes without saying that the people who ‘take the leap’ in changing how it is they think, even when they might not be ‘fully ready’ are those people who are able to realise that it’s ok to not be 100% sure that you’re ‘correct’.
Trust. Hope. Be ‘ok’ to write your own rules: Your mind- your rules.
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