How do you recognize signs of negative Body Image in yourself or others? How do you support someone displaying those signs?
Let’s remember that we all have an element of a distorted view of our bodies as well as complicated relationships with food.
All of the following are “normal” to a certain degree:
-Experiencing body dissatisfaction, being preoccupied with body weight, shape or appearance
-Struggling with feelings of depression, isolation, low self-esteem and/or disordered eating due to body dissatisfaction
-Having shame, anxiety, and self-consciousness about your body
-Frequently comparing your body to others and feeling that your body is flawed
RED FLAGS are:
-Obsession with body size and shape
-Extreme weight loss
-Refusal to eat, denial of hunger even when starving
-Labeling foods as good or bad.
-Fixate on eating foods that give a feeling of being healthy
-Obsessively going to the gym
How to support:
-The most important thing is to Notice changes in behaviour
-Begin conversations if you see someone is not him/herself
-Build self-esteem and confidence; there is more to being a human than what you look like
-Celebrate diverse shapes and individuality
-Praise the actions of the body not the appearance, function OVER form
-Take the focus off numbers on a scale - encourage balance between healthy eating and exercise
-Talk about Appetite awareness
Practice intuitive eating: I like to call it appetite awareness, being mindful and listening to hunger cues letting us know to eat when we are hungry and stop when we are full
Notice emotional eating which happens when we are not able to confront certain feelings so we eat instead: am I hungry for food or do I need something else?
Watch your language - avoid labeling foods as “good vs. naughty” and talking about “what to avoid”. Aim for balance and moderation.