If you struggle with disordered eating or body image, you've probably noticed that you live in a landmine of triggers to bad body feelings. The media creates this environment, but they are not the only guilty party. There are people all around you -- even your loved ones, who routinely make triggering comments about what you should eat and how you should look.
Weight and diet talk is all around us. A friend worries aloud about weight, your mother praises you for ordering a salad, your partner cuts out sugar, and your book club devolves into a discussion about diet strategies. All of this can keep you feeling insecure, even obsessive, about your food choices and how you look.
Recovery from disordered eating involves protecting yourself from diet culture discourse by setting boundaries wherever you encounter it. Boundaries come in two forms: internal and external.
An internal boundary is a form of protection that only you can see. It is a self-caring internal dialogue that offers self-soothing and perspective-shifting when triggered. For example, an internal boundary involves checking with yourself to notice how comments from friends and family affect you. Common signs of being triggered into bad body feelings include:
External boundaries involve dealing with a triggering situation by challenging it out loud. When triggered, speak up for humanity. Diet and weight talk hurts all of us. It represents a violation of our personal space and peace of mind. Many of my clients have learned to counter this toxic discourse by saying, "I've been working on being kinder to myself. Could we make this space clear of commentary about weight and eating? Those topics stress me out."
Setting boundaries, internal or external, reduces your stress in a difficult moment. And with practice it helps you develop a better relationship with yourself. It fosters a friendly, inner voice that you can trust to protect and care for you. And when your inner world is a sanctuary, what happens outside will lose its power over you.
So let us know how boundary setting affects your eating patterns and body image. We hope you find it to be a self-caring practice that builds confidence and keeps your health efforts on track. For more information on befriending your body and overcoming disordered eating, check out Alison's book, Non-Dieting: How to Love Your Body and Be Healthy in Diet Culture, available on Amazon.
Hi. I’m Alison Ross, founder of Non-Dieting Health in Agoura Hills, California. I’m a licensed psychotherapist and neurofeedback practitioner specializing in eating and body image. My favorite things are my family, my dogs, yoga and working with my clients.
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