6 Ideas for Improving Your Body Image

Body image is defined as how a person views the shape and weight of their frame. One could have a positive or a negative body image. Today, most of us are struggling with poor body images. It’s heavily influenced by biological, psychological and sociocultural factors.

Social media, especially, has increased our exposure to sociocultural factors, as we may compare ourselves to people who have received plastic surgery or whose images have been photoshopped and edited. We have always dealt with “keeping up with the Jones,” but it is now at an accelerated rate and at an even more unrealistic standard.

As a dietitian, I often see the impact that a person’s body image has on their food choices, whether it’s the pressure to follow the latest food trend and restrict certain foods, or obsessive habits developing into an eating disorder. In addition, many people receive improper nutrition and fitness advice from all of the uncredible sources that are allowed to be posted online. This misinformation leads to confusion, a poor body image, and disordered eating practices.

Having a more positive body image can help us restore our relationship with food so that we are making the decisions based on our body’s needs and not external factors. Reframing negative environmental triggers and practicing positive thought patterns can help. Here are a few ways to get started:

  1. Appreciate your body. Your body is a machine that’s capable of amazing things! We can be grateful for the simplicity of our ability to breathe, walk, see, and smell. We can also find more unique sources of gratitude, such as being able to exercise, laugh, dance, sing and think.
  2. Discover what’s awesome about you. Keep a list of things that make you awesome, other you’re your physical features. There is so much more to you than your shape and your weight. Consider your career achievements, your kindness, humor, creativity, vulnerability, and other unique qualities.
  3. Build a support network. Surround yourself with people that support you, have nice things to say, and who also practice self-care.
  4. Practice positive affirmations. Make a list of phrases that will encourage you when you need it. Phrases such as “I am enough,” “My size does not define me,” and “I am not my mistakes.”
  5. Become ruthless on social media. Unfollow anything or anyone that makes you feel “less than.” Acknowledge that the goal of media and advertisements is to sell something, and that people post the “best” and edited version of themselves. Filter what you take in, and take all posts with a grain of salt.
  6. Practice self-care. It may be a bike ride or a day off of work. We deserve to take a step back and make time for ourselves, being in nature, listening to music, quality time with friends and family, or simply taking a nap.

Liz Satterthwaite, RDN, LDN, is a ProMedica dietitian.