Welcome back! Let’s keep on going (we are so close to finishing up the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating over here!). Today we will be looking at Principle 8, “Respect Your Body”. Going as far back as Principle 1, it is incredibly hard to reject the diet mentality if you are continuously critical or unrealistic about your body; additionally, The Food Police voice gains strength each time you say or think a disapproving thought about your body and think it can be controlled with diet. Being an Intuitive Eater means being at peace with food and your body. No, you do not have to like every aspect of your body, but you do need to show it respect!
For many individuals, it can be hard to think of accepting or respecting their body the way it is in the here and now. It can trigger thoughts of being complacent, failing, or “giving up”, but it is really quite the opposite. Many times individuals have received healthcare through a weight centric lens, which says to the patient “first let’s fix your body, then manage your symptoms”. All individuals deserve self-respect, compassion and access to healthcare regardless of weight. Respecting and caring for your body should be the primary goal. This notion is best seen in the Health at Every Size (HAES) movement. HAES focuses on health-promoting behaviors for all individuals regardless of body size. Research has shown no adverse changes from utilizing this approach! Positive outcomes of a HAES approach include improvements in markers of health such as blood pressure, lipid profile, physical activity, and body image.
So you are probably thinking at this point “Okay, this sounds pretty promising. But I really do not know how to respect my body”. At the core of it, your body deserves to be comfortable, treated with dignity and kindness, all while your basic needs are being met.
Try saying these basic premises of body respect surmised in the Intuitive Eating text out loud, starting with “my body” and finishing with the bullet points:
deserves to be fed.
deserves to be treated with dignity.
deserves to be dressed comfortably and in the manner to which I am accustomed.
deserves to be touched affectionately and with respect.
deserves to move comfortably.
Yay, now these ideas are out in the universe. Let’s visit ideals and tools that can be utilized to foster a new, more respectful relationship to your body.
Body-checking is a game that can be done to yourself or by making assumptions and comparisons to others.
Using reflective surfaces such as mirrors, or physical checks such as pinching yourself are ways to body check oneself.
Any time you enter a room, turn on the TV, etc., if you find you are immediately comparing yourself and your body to others, this is another method of body checking. Remember, you cannot tell a single thing about a person from the way that they look so it is really quite futile and will only cause mental distress.
Another more subtle form of body-checking includes trying to change your body “short-term” for an event or special occasion such as a wedding or vacation. It becomes far too easy to fall victim to the diet mentality again if you are rationalizing it for an occasion
It’s extremely difficult to attain body respect if you’re constantly criticizing your body. Oftentimes individuals are body-bashing more times a day than they even think. Try keeping track of it for even a few hours, and you may be surprised at the amount.
For some individuals you may only be able to pick 1-2 body parts that you like (even an elbow or a knee count). If finding a part of your body that you like is difficult, think of replacing a disdainful comment with a respectful comment. When a thought pops up such as “I hate my thighs”, reframe that to think “I have such strong legs. They help me get out of bed each day and walk my dog, who I love”.
A public way of body-bashing is to engage in fat-talk. This is when we engage in public conversations shaming our bodies. You have every right to opt out of these conversations anywhere they may be occurring.
It is quite normal to feel as though you need a mourning or grieving period for the body you never attained or a body you used to have. At the end of the day, treating your current body with dignity and respect is a basic need. Respect your body for what it does for you. You do not need to love or even like your body at all times, and no you will not always feel positively in or about your body. But your body always deserves respect.