Combat Eating Disorders By Improving Your Body Image




“Peanut Butter, The Binges”


In the United States an estimated 5–10 million females as well as an estimated 1 million men in the U.S. have an eating disorder. 

Eating disorders” (ED) refers to a group of conditions defined by abnormal eating habits that may involve either insufficient or excessive food intake to the detriment of an individual’s physical and mental health. Bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge eating disorder are the most common specific forms in the United States.

Although eating disorders are increasing all over the world among men and women, a body of evidence suggests it is women in the Western world who are at the highest risk of developing ED. The more westernized the country the greater risk for eating disorders. Because cultural beliefs play into the disease, it is worth examining and promoting attitudes that counter the eating disorder culture. A friend and colleague of mine, Janna Dean, who is a therapist specializing in eating disorders, wrote the following suggestions to improve your body image.

20 Ways to Improve Your Body Image

by Janna Dean, LCSW

  1. Identify something challenging to your body image and take the challenge!  Dress outside of your comfort zone, change your hair style, wear something new, etc.
  2. Treat yourself like you would treat someone you love, like your best friend.  Give yourself the same forgiveness of mistakes and imperfections that you would give others.
  3. Focus on the positives.  Find one thing that you like about yourself every time you look in the mirror and build that up.
  4. Positive Affirmations:  “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23: 7.  Shut down those voices in your head that tell you your body is not “right.”  You can overpower negative thoughts with positive ones.  Tell yourself what you would like to believe about yourself.
  5. Learn to compliment others.  As you give, you receive.  To be accepting of your body, be accepting of others’ bodies.
  6. Receive compliments.  Learn to say thank you and internalize compliments.
  7. Avoid things that give you a superficial or shallow view of yourself: scales, mirrors, fashion magazines, etc. (Throw Away your scale and quit weighing yourself.  Numbers have nothing to do with your health or your worth.)
  8. Body movement:  Reconnect with your body through movement.  Use your body. Don’t force yourself to exercise; allow yourself the opportunity to move.
  9. Do something nice for yourself—something that lets your body know you appreciate it.  Take a bubble bath, get a massage, find a peaceful place outside to relax, take a nap.
  10. Keep a top 10 list.  Write down the top ten reasons you love your body.  Keep the list with you and read it often.
  11. Appreciate all that your body can do for you—laughing, running, breathing, etc.
  12. Surround yourself with people you love and help you feel good about yourself.  Avoid people who obsess about dieting, food, exercise, and body image.
  13.  Avoid magazines and media that don’t help you feel good about yourself.  Become a critical viewer of social and media messages.  Pay attention to images, slogans, or attitudes that make you feel bad about yourself.  Protest the messages, talk about it with your families, friends, and roommates.
  14. Don’t compare yourself to others (everyone has different body types)—you are your own worst critic. Work toward balanced eating of all types of foods in moderation; work toward eating in response to body hunger (eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full). Read Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch and develop a healthy relationship with food.
  15. Eliminate “fat talk” about yourself or anyone else.  Speak up when you hear people making comments about a person’s body shape or weight—don’t allow this kind of talk in your home.
  16. Give up conversations about dieting, calories, weight, bodies, etc.
  17. Make a list of 3 things your body did well each day.
  18. Work on developing areas in your life that you are passionate about.  You will be beautiful when you love yourself.
  19. Acknowledge that bodies come in all shapes and sizes and are beautiful in their own right—beauty is subjective.
  20. Remind yourself that true joy has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with how much you weigh or what shape your body is.

Thanks Janna for your insights.

Another good post on the subject:

Illustration above is by Maria Raquel Cochez who is a Panamanian artist that explores her own Eating Disorder, Compulsive Overeating and Body Dysmorphia in her art work.

Camille Curtis Foster/ 801.472.7134/  Please “like” my Facebook page:

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