Making peace with food or finding a more positive (or at least less negative) body image can feel so overwhelming. SO overwhelming. It’s completely normal to have no idea where to even start. If you try to tackle everything at once, it will only increase anxiety to an unmanageable level, leading to paralyzing fear of doing anything.
I cannot emphasize enough how much of a process this is. A step by step, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, process. I strongly encourage you to let yourself only take this a day at a time. By doing so, you leave tomorrow for tomorrow and you focus only on the next step in front of you.
When you wake up and begin to think about facing the day ahead, you’ll likely feel a lot of uncertainty, apprehension, fear, anxiety, discouragement, lack of confidence, frustration or any number of emotions. I encourage you to recognize them as activity of the mind rather than anything firmly based in reality. Your beliefs about yourself, food, your body and other issues will influence how you feel, and may or many not be factual and true. Take some time to connect to what you can actually see and feel and what you know you to be true. Ground yourself in being where you are.
I encourage you to think about body positivity and making peace with food as a choice. It’s not something you will automatically feel, without making the conscious decision TO feel it. For example, you may be getting dressed for the day with a lot of negative thoughts about your body. Those feelings can keep you from engaging in or connecting with things you find meaningful, fun and rewarding. Or, you can feel those feelings while still moving toward what you value. That’s the choice, and the essence of making peace with food and your body. I think it’s super important to realize that you WILL feel difficult emotions, but it doesn’t mean you have to react to them. Take it as an opportunity to connect with what you truly value.
That means you need to know what you value. What’s most important to you? I strongly encourage you to take some time to write down all the reasons you want to recover, feel more confident with food or have less anxiety about your body. What would a peaceful relationship with food and your body look like? Let yourself take the time to connect with what you hope for. I think you’ll find that experience to be healing, inspiring and grounding.
After being motivated by an eating disorder, food rules or fear of weight gain, it will feel awkward at first to quiet your mind and connect with your values. The way to make it easier and more natural is to practice. By doing so, you’ll start to know what it feels like to make decisions YOU feel good about, the kind that are in line with what YOU value. You’ll become more self-directed and confident in knowing what brings you peace.
You’ve got to know where you want to go before you can get there. When you do know what matters most to you, you can take it a day at at time, allowing yourself space to practice being true to that.
Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD