How do we stop hating our bodies?
How do we speak kindly to ourselves in a society fraught with diet culture and fatphobia? In a world telling us it's our moral obligation to be and stay small?
Because January can be a particularly tough month for diet-talk and mental health (not to mention January in a lockdown), I'm sharing five practical tips along with resources you can use right now to start freeing yourself from negative self-talk and begin making peace with your body instead.
Five Things You Can Do Today To Stop Hating Your Body:
1. Expose yourself to a diversity of bodies. Particularly, bodies that are your size and bigger. You will never see yourself as beautiful or not "wrong" if you are only seeing one type of body that looks nothing like you.
How to start: Social media can be your worst enemy, or best friend, depending on how you use it. Deplete the accounts that make you feel bad, and start following accounts that help "normalize normal bodies".
Some accounts I like as a starting point are: Virgie Tovar, Jessamyn, Meg Boggs, Stephanie Yoboah and this curation of diverse bodies. Use these as a place to begin your journey to finding people and accounts you relate to and draw inspiration from. This blog post is a great place to start, too.
2. Reject the idea that it is possible to intentionally pursue weight loss easily and permanently. We all have a natural set weight range that our body wants to stay around, and despite what diet culture may try to sell you, that looks different for everyone. (And PSA: you can be healthy in a big body!) Try embracing, rather than fighting, your unique body size.
3. Practice ways of eating and moving that connect you to you body and inner cues, over diets or "lifestyles" that ask you to ignore your body's needs and desires. Try building a relationship with yourself that honours, rather than punishes, your body.
How to start: I love the book Intuitive Eating as an introduction to the 10 principles, and well as their Workbook. You can try Enjoy It All by my friend and follow IE Counsellor here in Toronto Sarah Berneche, and The F*ck It Diet. Another good local Toronto follow is Fran Allen. She does a beautiful job of promoting an All Foods Fit approach and Health At Every Size nutrition.
4. Recognize your biases around body size, and how they may be affecting you. What comes to mind when you think of someone in a big body versus a small one? If you are associating thin with good and fat with bad, can you see this is rooted in diet culture and biases we've been conditioned to believe, rather than facts? The good news is since these are biases and not truths, they can be unlearned with practice.
How to start: One thing that really helped me unlearn diet culture myths and challenge fatphobia was listening to the podcast Food Psych, as well as subscribing to this newsletter for weekly reminders in my inbox. This blog post is super helpful, too. This takes active work, so the more anti-diet media you consume, the easier it will get.
5. Choose your compassionate voice over your critical. It isn't always easy, but you get to decide how you speak to yourself. Can you choose to celebrate your body, rather than shaming it? The more you practice compassion (as uncomfortable and unnatural as it may feel at first), the easier it gets.
How to start: The first book I read and loved on this topic was Embody and found it really helpful. I would also suggest taking the opportunity to look at who you are talking to and being influenced by, and how they speak about themselves and others - as this will have a direct impact on how you speak to yourself. Also, when possible, choose weight neutral practitioners. In Toronto, I love Eastwood Wellness, and encourage you to find businesses, friends, support groups and a community that supports your values. :)
Tara is a Certified Nutritionist, Intuitive Eating Counsellor and Diet Recovery Coach, as well as an advocate of the Anti-Diet movement. She completed a mentorship with Emotional and Binge Eating expert Isabel Foxen Duke and is a member of the Associate for Size Diversity and Health. Tara promotes the principles of Health At Every Size® and weight neutral wellness at both at Health Hut and in her private practice.