Women with Anorexia have issues with their body image and a feeling of helplessness and inability to control their life. The combination of these challenges makes them seek control in any way and not eating seems to them a great way to gain control.
Society around us obviously contributes a lot to the negative body image and self image girls have during childhood, through their teenage years and later on into adulthood. The image of an anorexic teen girl can be misleading. There are also many women are anorexic who need help.
One way of healing is learning to love your body.
Loving your body is giving yourself the permission to feel good physically and it must be done slowly, with love and with patience. If you are a parent or someone who wants to help an anorexic person, just saying, “You need to love your body”, will not make the required difference.
The best idea is to help the anorexic person search for good things – positive thoughts, encouragements, small bits of progress and every little achievement – to help change their perception of their life’s reality.
How to love your body
Here is a list of things to do to learn to love your body:
- Wear comfortable clothes that make you feel good. Do not try to fit into fashion or compromise on what you have in your wardrobe. Focus on giving your body comfort and relieving tension.
- Make a list of 10 things you love about your body. If you come up with more things, even better. Add them to your list. Keep this list in a diary with its date and review it from time to time.
- Make a list of times in your life when you felt good with your body. Write down the circumstances around those times. Where were you? What did you do? Who was with you? It will help you discover what contributes to your ability to feel good about your body.
- Write your successes in a success journal. Spend 5 times at the end of every day listing the things that worked well during the day and the things you accomplished. Write “I <did something good> today and I feel <great> about it”.
- Write a list of 100 choices you have made in your life. This will help you learn that everything you do is a choice. Even not choosing is a choice. Reading this list will help you realize you have more control over your life than you think you do.
- If you have problems with your skin, remember it takes one month for the skin to replace itself. Everything is temporary!
- If you have problems with your stomach, remember the stomach lining renews itself every five days, the liver regenerates every six weeks and the skeleton every three months. Anything can be healed!
- Every morning, wake up and decide what great things will happen to you today. This will plant in your subconscious what to pay attention to during the day. It works magic!
- Find a way to exercise that you like. If you use it to lose weight, it is a constant reminder you are not happy. Find a physical outlet that helps you gain something good (muscle tone, stamina, flexibility, energy, etc), not lose something bad.
- Put a sign on your mirror that says, “I Am Beautiful”. Read it every morning and again before you go to bed. You will be amazed how 3 weeks later, you will change the way you think about yourself. As part of my coaching course, I had to create something like that on my mirror. I wrote with eyeliner, “My hair looks great and my skin is beautiful”. A week later, my daughter came to me and said, “Mom, it worked”. I asked, “What worked?” and she said, “I think that since you’ve written on the mirror, my hair looks great and my skin is beautiful”. I had written it for me, but she had read it too, because she had used the same mirror every day. Three weeks later, I went to visit my friend and she asked me, “Have you done something with your hair?” I said, “No”. “Have you done something with your skin?” I said, “No”. She said, “I don’t know why, but your hair and skin look different. They look beautiful”. It was spooky, but it worked.
- Make a list of people you believe are beautiful inside and out and write down what makes them beautiful in your eyes. Think of qualities that you have in common with them. When you start seeing beauty in others, it helps you notice and accept your own beauty.
- Eat when you are hungry.
- Make a list of things you love to eat and give yourself the pleasure of enjoying eating or preparing them for yourself. Food is not the enemy. It helps you keep your body healthy and vital. Reject all the articles and “health concerns” reports about how dangerous junk food is, how damaging milk is or how toxic the air is. You are being manipulated to believe these things so you will buy products that you do not need.
- Do not buy magazines. The image of girls and women in them is distorted and “photoshopped” and makes most women feel bad about their body. Again, this is a manipulation intended to make you buy beauty, diet and “health” products in hopes they will ever look like the “photoshopped” models in the magazine.
- Create a list of all the things you can do with your body and realize that your body is amazingly supportive and very sophisticated. Your body is your vehicle to travel and experience this world and you have to find a way to live in peace with it and treat it well. If you do not sleep well, you do not treat your body well. If you do not eat well or drink enough water, you do not treat your body well. Your body is a temple and you need to take good care of it.
- Make a list of 100 things that will make you happy and work your list. Make sure you have on your list things that make you feel good physically: hot bath, massage, doing your nails or getting a pedicure, having someone put beautiful makeup on you, going to a spa or swimming if you like the feel of the water on your skin. Bathe in the sun if you like to feel warm. Use cream all over your body. Bounce on a trampoline, dance, laugh out loud, hug. The list is endless and personal.
- Hang around people who like themselves, who make you feel good about yourself and love you for who you are, not for the way you look. At the same time, stay away from people who measure success based on external things or talk too much about food and diet.
- Make a list of 100 things you want to do in your lifetime. Write next to each thing the physical condition you need to be in to achieve it. For example, if one of the things you want in your lifetime is to have kids, then you need to be fertile. If you want to travel the world or go on a trek in Nepal, you need to be fit. This will keep you motivated and help you realize why you need to take care of your body as it allows you to follow your dreams.
Learning to love our body is partly learning the use of the body and understanding why treating it nicely will help you reach your dreams. Paying attention to what makes you feel good and allowing yourselves to feel good can help prevent and recover from anorexia.
Be happy in a happy body,
This post is part of the series Anorexia: