If you don’t feel good about the body you have, you’re not alone. The number of diet programmes available is evidence of how many people are concerned with their body size and shape – and their continued existence also shows that diets are at best temporary solutions. Happily, there is an alternative.
In the culture we live in, there is a widespread belief that a slim, streamlined figure is better and healthier than a big, curvy one. This belief is often incorrectly presented as a timeless and universal truth. And it’s presented in so many different overt and subtle ways, that many people feel under pressure from themselves and others to achieve or maintain a particular size, shape or weight – whether or not this is the one they were designed to be. The good news is: it’s possible to feel great about your body without changing a thing.
There are a number of ways you can improve your self-image and facilitate the development of good body image in yourself and others.
Instead of reading and talking with others about diets, you could gather information on the subject of ‘body image‘, and discuss what you find out with supportive friends and family. For example, you could investigate: how this culture’s approach to body size and shape is a passing fashion, and how other cultures exist which value very different body types.
It may also help to ensure your relationship with food and eating is a positive one. Strange though it may sound, research has shown that strict dieting can actually create the experience of ‘feeling fat’. And where there is unwanted overeating, the thoughts which follow it often support continuing dissatisfaction with the body.
Food and Eating
So a positive relationship with food and eating doesn’t involve dieting or unwanted overeating. Instead, it involves:
- enjoying the food you like in a relaxed way
- eating the right amount for your body
- including the nutrients that enable it to function at its best.
If doing these is a challenge for you, you may want to consider getting some help from a specialist practitioner (examples of practitioners are counsellors, psychotherapists, dieticians or nutritionists with experience in and knowledge of these issues).
It may also help to pay attention to your relationship with your body itself. This may include:
- getting a different perspective on your body, and on what part it plays in how you see yourself as a person
- learning to value your body- what it does, as well as what you do like about how it looks
- honouring its needs for activity and rest, for nutrition and pleasurable treats
- noticing what leaves you feeling less good about your body, and finding solutions to this. For example, if you have clothes that don’t fit your current size, find the courage to get rid of them and invest in clothes you enjoy wearing.
- noticing what supports you in feeling good about your body, and bringing more of that into your life
Again, if doing these is a challenge for you, you may want to consider getting some help from a specialist practitioner.