Hannah: As a teenager in high school I have experienced negative self-talk about food and my body, but through working on my relationship with food and the way I see myself, my mindset has been reframed. Just through my personal experience, I have seen the power that food had over my life and my thoughts. A study from Brown University discovered a shocking statistic describing, “about 74.4% of females and 46% of men explained that they have thought about their weight and the way they look”(Skolnick). To break this down even more, when you walk into a classroom of thirty people, almost 80% of the entire class will have either dealt with not liking how their body looks or currently feel that way. This doesn’t just happen overnight, but this process occurs over years and reoccured statements or situations that we have been in have framed our opinions on body image and eating habits.
Diet culture tells us to achieve the “perfect” body, yet 95% of people experience that diets fail, and not one body should be labeled as the “perfect body”. Luckily today, the narrative on dieting, modeling space, and big-screen movies are shifting to include more diverse representations of all groups of people and of all shapes and sizes. Additionally, dieting culture is both toxic and harmful and has caused eating disorders throughout many generations. Food plays a major role in all of our lives, and without food and water, we would not be alive. But most of us still struggle to eat three meals a day, with snacks in between, and we fail to give our bodies the proper nutrients to thrive. There are some practical and attainable ways to change our viewpoints on both body image and food and how it pertains to our lives.
Three starting points:
- Learning about the biological makeup of our bodies
There are some amazing books and informative articles on the body’s complex functions and intricate systems. Learning more about these amazing functions such as neuropathways, the respiratory system, and brain health can be an encouraging way to understand that your body is much more than the way you look.
- Understanding that FOOD IS FUEL
When each one of us thinks about our next meal or food in general, there is oftentimes restriction on what we allow ourselves to eat and what foods we try to avoid. This can be very problematic because no food is inherently “bad” or “good” but is instead fuel. Taking off the labels and seeing each source of nutrients we place into our bodies allows us to have a more holistic approach to our bodies as a whole.
- Appreciation for the ability to complete daily tasks
Oftentimes headaches and tiredness would ruin my day and I was somewhat confused as to why this was the case. As someone who is very active, and at the time having 2.5 hours of Waterpolo or exercise a day, my body needed access to fuel. I learned over time that food is what empowers me to work harder throughout the day by giving my body the nutrients and energy it needs to complete each task. Even something as simple as reading a book, or taking a small walk uses energy but if we do not have anything left to give these simple tasks become super challenging. Appreciating that your body can do all the amazing things you do in a day but also chemically is able to balance different hormones and processes is remarkable!