In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness week (next week, February 25 – March 3) we’re offering helpful tips for fostering a positive body image. A healthy relationship with our bodies is an important protective factor against the development of disordered eating. Practice some of the following tips to help everyone in your family develop a healthy body image.
If your child or teen is struggling with disordered eating or low body image, seeking professional support can help. There is a wide variety of support available, including individual therapy, weekly groups, and working with a registered dietitian.
TIPS FOR FOSTERING A POSITIVE BODY IMAGE
1. Focus on what our bodies can do! Our bodies can do some pretty amazing things! By focusing on all the day-to-day things our bodies do for us, and less on the things about our bodies we don’t like, we can develop a deeper appreciation for the role our bodies play in our lives. For example, notice the way our bodies allows us to participate in our favorite activities.
2. Encourage limiting time on social media. Research shows that merely 30 minutes a day on social media can change the way we view our bodies. Teach your child or teen to be a critical observer of media content. Many social media posts are highly curated, photoshopped or facetuned, and potentially selling something. If your teen is frequently scrolling on social media, encourage a daily time limit or a social media vacation.
3. Practice self-compassion. Teach your family members to talk to themselves about their bodies the same way they would talk to close friends or loved ones who were feeling badly about themselves. Help them to understand their feelings are normal and that we all feel that way sometimes.
4. Banish diet culture. We’re constantly bombarded by advertisements, discussions, and books on the latest diets. It may seem everyone around you is dieting in some way! Most diets promote restriction of some kind, whether that be calories or certain foods. Be mindful about the way you model and talk about food and dieting, as it is a major contributor to the attitudes your children develop around dieting.
5. Practice mindful eating. Encourage mindful eating at home by having your family notice their food with all of their senses – focusing mindfully on the act of eating. Put aside distractions and encourage them to tune in to their bodies’ hunger and fullness cues.
6. Make self-care a priority. Encourage everyone in your family to take time to relax and engage in soothing activities such as taking a bath, making a favorite treat, listening to music, or reading a book. Help them notice the types of activities that make them feel restored.
7. Focus on movement that brings joy! Staying active in our bodies is an important part of our health. Rather than forcing exercise that feels like a chore, engage in physical activities you enjoy! Whether it’s dancing, swimming, running, sports, yoga, skating, or hiking, help your family to find their groove and move!
8. Get connected. Surround your children – and yourself – with positive, supportive people who don’t bash their bodies or the bodies of others. Encourage your kids and teens to spend time with family and friends who see their strengths, listen, and lift them up.
Other Recommended Resources:
- Article: Sharing Food – Nourishment & Connection by Melissa Johnson, PhD
- Book: Nourish by Heidi Schauster, MS, RDN, CEDRD-S
- Podcast: Food Psych Podcast by Christy Harrison, MPH, RD, CDN
- Video: Mindful Eating by Melissa Johnson, PhD
- Organization: Check out the National Eating Disorders Association for more helpful resources – including their body acceptance challenge
To learn more, call us at 626-585-8075 ext. 108 or email MMueller@IFGD.care.