Body Image Issues: How to Overcome Them

The Nystrom & Associates provider consulted for this article on body image issues is Dr. Karin Ryan, PsyD, LP, Clinic Director, Outpatient Therapist.  Poor body image is something many of us have struggled with at one point or another. It can especially rear its head in the warmer months when swimsuits and shorts come out of storage. With more of your body out in the open, you may find your insecurity worsening. How can we start to cultivate a more positive body image?

What Causes Body Image Issues

Many people struggle with body image because of the shame-based messaging they receive. Whether it's from friends, family, television, or social media, the message is the same: your body should be different. All these messages about the things your body "should be" corrode your self-esteem. They also foster the belief that you are "not good enough" as you are. Additionally, it trains your mind to be critical and judgmental about your body. Related: Social Media and Mental Health: What's the Impact?

Shifting How We Talk About Our Bodies

Ultimately, we would like to reduce the negative thoughts about our bodies to zero, but old habits can be tough to break. A good start is not talking about our bodies negatively. Be careful of making comments like:
  • "I could never wear that."
  • "I will never fit in those pants again."
  • "I wish I could be size xyz."
  • "I am never wearing a swimsuit in public."
  • "I look so bloated."
Instead, try to comment less on your body's appearance and more on what your body does for you. You can say things like:
  • "I'm thankful for my legs, they help me walk."
  • "I'm thankful for my arms, they let me hold a loved one."
  • "I'm thankful for my stomach, it turns food into energy."
Related: Eating Disorders: 4 Common Myths

Nystrom & Associates on Body Image

Watch Dr. Karin Ryan on Twin Cities Live as she discusses how to have a healthier relationship with our body image and food.

Develop a Kinder Relationship With Food

Try to start thinking of food as a way to nourish yourself and give you energy rather than how it will affect the number on the scale. As Dr. Karin Ryan explains, "Food is meant to nourish us, give us energy, and be enjoyable." Try not to talk about eating too much, restricting, or dieting. There isn't good and bad food - only food that gives you energy and food that doesn't. Parents can also model this when talking with their children about food, Dr. Ryan says:
A healthy relationship with food is having balanced meals, trying to have meals together, and really talking about what fuels you, what makes you feel good, what makes you have energy, what will keep you strong for your soccer game.
Related: Food & Mood: How Are They Linked?

A Word from Nystrom & Associates

If you or someone you love struggles with body image issues, help is available. Therapy and nutrition counseling can provide skills to accept your body and nourish it as it needs. If you'd like to make an appointment, call 1-844-NYSTROM or request an appointment online at any of our convenient locations. Related: How to Start Therapy: a Step-by-Step Guide

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