Body Image, Food & Mental Health

The Power of Body Image on Food Intake & Mental Health

“Perhaps the most intimate relationship each of us will ever have is not with any fellow member of our own human species. Instead, it is between our bodies and our food.”

Mariette DiChristina, Editor, Scientific American

One of the greatest factors influencing our relationship with food, is the relationship we have with our bodies and ourselves. In our current media environment – which includes the ever-increasing and often harmful presence of social media – the vast majority of females and an increasing number of males, suffer from significant body dissatisfaction.  Family and friends, often unknowingly, contribute to the problem.  More importantly, the psychological distress caused by poor body image is often overlooked and greatly underestimated.  This includes low self-esteem, profound shame, deep depression, and severed relationships.  Body dissatisfaction is also the strongest predictor of disordered eating and eating disorder development and maintenance.  Our current food landscape – characterized by easily accessible, highly palatable, ultra-processed foods – only exacerbates the problem.  The solution to poor body image is multi-faceted.  It involves being far more deliberate in our use of social media, eliminating fat talk or body talk, discouraging unhealthy eating practices and extreme diets, and perhaps most importantly, learning to practice self-compassion, which involves turning towards oneself with kindness, especially when life feels hard.

Bottom line:  This informative, highly relevant, and thought-provoking presentation is about helping individuals and society develop healthier relationships with their bodies, with themselves, and with food.

What you’ll learn:

  • How directly and harshly media consumption, especially social media, impacts body image – the more media we consume, the more we hate our bodies
  • How social media encourages an obsession with physical appearance, including a constant comparison to others, and triples the risk of disordered eating
  • How male body-image problems, which are on the rise, often come disguised as health and fitness goals, frequently involving the excessive use of body-building supplements and protein shakes
  • How the digital retouching of photos vastly changes the standard we measure our bodies against
  • How mothers, fathers, siblings, and friends promote body dissatisfaction, and what can and should be done differently
  • How weight-based criticism, teasing, and bullying, leads to severe self-criticism and self-hate
  • How “fat talk” and “body checking” reinforce body dissatisfaction
  • Why parents should focus on their child’s habits and health, not their body weight
  • Why stable families with strong relationships are critical to the well-being of children and teens (safe emotional attachments provide insulation in a wounding world)
  • How family meals create healthier, happier relationships with food and each other, and why they should be a top priority in every home
  • Why dieting and meal skipping should not be tolerated and how they lead to disordered eating
  • How mindfulness, silencing the inner critic, and especially self-compassion, are critical to healing unhealthy relationships with food, our bodies, and ourselves

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