EAT WITH CONFIDENCE
Body image is a person's perception of the aesthetics or sexual attractiveness of their own body. It involves how we see ourselves, compared to the standards that have been set by society.
Broadly speaking, it encompasses our overall attitudes towards our respective heights, shapes, and weights—all of which are shaped by prevalent social and cultural ideals.
Body image can be negative ("body negativity") or positive ("body positivity").
Someone with a negative body image may feel self-conscious or ashamed and may feel that others are more attractive. In a time where social media holds a very important place and is used frequently in our daily lives, people of different ages and genders are affected emotionally and mentally by the standards of the body image set by society. These standards created and changed by society create a world filled with body shaming which is the act of humiliating someone by mocking or making critical comments about their body shape and/or size.
Amongst the different types of body shaming, perhaps the most harmful and hurtful is the one we subject ourselves to. "We are our own worst critic" especially when we judge and see our flaws more than anyone else. We body shame ourselves by judging or comparing ourselves to others and many times equate out happiness with our goal of reaching that ‘unrealistic ideal’ that we’ve set in our mind.
Based on the results of a recent survey done on “How do you feel about your body image most of the time?” 62% of the women feel negative about their body image compared with 53% of men. Further break down includes 13% feeling ‘very negative’ and only 1% feeling ‘positive’.
Aside from having low self-esteem, those with body image issues typically fixate on altering their physical appearances. In the long term, such behavior creates higher risks of eating disorders, isolation, depression and other mental illnesses. A negative body image may also lead to body dysmorphic disorder, a mental disorder characterized by the obsessive idea that some aspect of one's own body or appearance is severely flawed and warrants exceptional measures to hide or fix.
Often, people who have low or negative body image will try to alter their bodies in some way, such as by Dieting. Dieting has become extremely popular and common in our culture, giving it social acceptance has actually led to further deterioration in one’s relationship with themselves and especially with the Food one eat.
Here are the signs of a bad relationship with Food:
- You feel guilty about eating.
- You avoid or restrict foods that are supposedly “bad” for you.
- You have developed a long list of rules surrounding the foods you can and cannot eat.
- You rely on calorie counters or apps to tell you when you’re done eating for the day.
- You ignore your body’s natural hunger cues.
- You have a history of yo-yo dieting or following the latest diet fads.
- You feel immense stress and anxiety when eating in social settings due to fear of what others may think of your food choices.
- You find yourself restricting and/or binging food
Ways to build a good relationship with food –
- Eat when you’re hungry – listen to the natural signs of hunger and fullness that your body constantly give you
- Practice mindful eating - Learning to slow down and savour the food you’re eating can help you learn which foods you genuinely enjoy and also become more in tune with your body’s natural hunger and fullness regulation.
- Welcome, all foods in your diet – Ascribing a food as “bad” give it unnecessary power. Indeed, certain foods are more nutritious than others and contribute to improved health. Still, eating a single food isn’t going to miraculously affect your health in any way either. So start viewing all foods as equal, with no food being better or worse than another. When you stop viewing foods as “good” or “bad,” you remove the food’s power. Over time, you won’t feel the need to overeat it when it’s around.
- Don’t obsess over the number on the scale – Your identity and self-esteem are worth way more than the number on that scale. Stop the self-blackmail now.
- Don’t let the opinions of others dictate which foods you eat – Your relationship with your body and food is unique, and so are your needs. Do what feels right to you and ignore unsolicited advice and opinions. Most importantly, stop judging yourself. Then, other’s opinions and judgements will stop mattering.
Your relationship with food is personal, unique, and requires regular work to keep it healthy. Though it may seem tough to fix your bad relationship with food, it’s possible to get to a state in which food no longer controls you and instead fuels your overall well-being.
As you navigate your relationship with food, remember that food isn’t inherently good or bad. It’s the labels you put on it that give it power.
So next time, whether you’re eating Cake or Kale, remember to enjoy it, love it and Eat with Confidence.