Body Image; Societal & Personal Pressures
Body image is one of the deepest running insecurities we carry around with us. Body image stress manifests differently in each person as we all have our own coping mechanisms and are affected uniquely by the pressure we both create and feel from others to be a certain way. Fixation on food, whether dieting, bingeing or restricting, is not a simple matter of will power (and to believe that is a damaging misconception). Addressing body image is a very unique process and involves understanding the root of a person’s insecurity, triggers, emotional coping tools, physical manifestations and use of food and physical activity.
Eating Disorders vs. Disordered Eating
In our diet and fitness perfection-oriented society, disordered eating is quite common, affecting up to 50% of people. Rigid eating rules, anxiety about food, avoiding food groups and basing self esteem on body weight and shape are common symptoms that many struggle with on a daily basis, which creates stress and perpetuates a harmful cycle that may last for years, if not a lifetime. These cycles may be passed on from generation to generation and are compounded by a societal focus of judging self-worth from one’s appearance; something that has become easier with celebrity idolization, social media, myths about weight & health and unresolved societal insecurities / fat-phobia from past decades.
Clinically diagnosed eating disorders differ from disordered eating in their intensity. Four categories of clinical eating disorders exist; Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, and Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Diagnosed eating disorder show up less commonly than disordered eating and are co-managed along with specialized psychologists and ED recovery centers.
Approach to Treatment
- Identifying the root of your relationship with your self image and your relationship food; having a supportive place to openly talk about these factors, allowing you to become aware of how they show up in your life today.
- Treating underlying presentations of anxiety, chronic stress and other stressors that food or food restriction is used as a coping mechanism for.
- Healing the body systems that are both affected by and contribute to food addiction / cravings and food anxiety: gut health, hormonal health & blood sugar, sleep quality, stress regulation and correcting nutrient deficiencies (which are common due to lower quality soil and food sources, food restriction and pharmaceutical use).
- Influencing the biochemical pathways of metabolism, mood and energy to bring balance to the body; reshaping metabolism so that is functions well after a history of dieting and restriction.
- Developing goals and creating a lifestyle together that fosters less anxiety around food and body-positive perspectives while maintaining a healthy weight you enjoy being at.
- Educating and problem solving about food (how to eat what and when) to support you physically and mentally through this journey. Discussing the role of physical activity and finding how it fits into your life in a way that serves your body, mind and spirit.