Amanda Sandroni MS RD LDN is an Eating Disorder Dietitian Nutritionist in Pennsylvania & New York. She specializes in working with people who want to heal their relationship with food and their body. In this post, she shares how summertime can be a crucial time for body image support and how to get through those distressful & disruptive body image thoughts.
Body image in the summertime can be one of the more challenging times to work on your eating disorder recovery. It can also be one of the most important.
Let’s be honest…body image, in and of itself, can suck sometimes. And once summertime starts creeping up, so do *all* the negative thoughts and fears around what your body might look like. But before we begin to talk about how to support yourself during hard summertime body image moments, let’s first dive into what distressful body image thoughts are.
What is body image?
According to www.dictionary.com, body image is defined as, “a person’s subjective picture or mental image of their own body.”
This image can often become distressful, resulting in thoughts that include wanting to shrink your body to fit a certain aesthetic, possibly restricting food intake in hopes of changing your body, and/or exercising to “burn off calories”.
These thoughts can be really hard to get out of your mind, and often, we may even cancel plans to meet up with friends because we do not like the way we look, or feel that we cannot trust ourselves around food. In addition, these thoughts can create an uptick in eating disorder behaviors or disordered eating.
What does distressful body image feel like?
It’s like someone turned the volume all the way up on your Spotify and it’s the noisiest music you have ever heard, with songs titled, “Beach Body” and “Hot Person Summer”, constantly on repeat.
It is so noisy that you are simply unable to have any thoughts other than, “how can I change my body?”
So let’s turn that way too loud summertime body image noise down together.
Here are FOUR tips to help turn the volume down around wanting to change your body and how to get through a distressful body image day.
1. Change into looser fitting clothing, or the comfiest outfit you own.
During the summer it is important to wear weather appropriate clothing, and that can be SO hard when these thoughts take up your entire brain space, telling us that we need to wear specific clothing to hide our body and causing disruptive body image thoughts. But wearing clothing that feels comfortable can make all the difference on our body image.
2. Step away from the mirror to limit the amount of times you look at your reflection.
Maybe start by noticing how often you are checking how you look in mirrors or even windows/glass that you walk by. Once you can notice the frequency, you can start to make a plan to reduce the amount of times you are looking at your reflection.
3. Do something that you love to do to help you through it.
Whether that be putting on a comforting TV show, reading a good book, taking a nap, or playing your favorite video game.
4. Recognize and notice the hateful thoughts that are coming in and answering those thoughts with compassion and self-love.
As a first step, start to recognize and notice this negative voice on repeat. You’re allowed to step away from this narrative. You can change the playlist that is on repeat, telling you that your worth is determined by your body size. Your body may change, but your worth does not.
Remember, in order to have a “Beach Body” all you need to do is go to the beach.
It does not matter your size, or what your body looks like. And let’s face it, we are all “hot people” and we don’t need a season to contain us. And in case you forgot, your size is the least interesting thing about you.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, it is still so vital to eat even when having a distressful body image day. You not only need to eat, but you deserve to eat. The only qualification for that is that you are a living being.
If you are struggling in your relationship with food and would like to learn more about resources and support, we invite you to reach out.
Our Dietitian team at Reclaim Nutrition would love to support you on your journey to food freedom, body image healing and eating disorder recovery.
We are here, if you should need it!