Eating Disorder Awareness Week: Shifting your focus from aesthetics to health
Eating Disorder Awareness Week is a time to recognize the movement which aims to combat society’s beauty standards and promote self-acceptance. Eating disorder types can vary greatly and can include restrictive, bingeing, and purging behaviors, and they don’t all result in weight loss.
Because of this, it’s important to recognize eating disorder symptoms that aren’t related to physical appearance, such as a preoccupation with food, refusing to eat certain foods, and food rituals, so you can recognize them in both yourself and your loved ones. You can view a more comprehensive list here.
My name is Olivia Brant, and I am a Registered Dietitian and owner of Olivia Ashton Nutrition. I aim to show my clients that focusing on health instead of body image makes achieving body composition goals more effortless, and I wanted to highlight the importance of this during eating disorder awareness week in particular.
I recognize that each of my clients comes from a different background and has a different story, but that at one point or another, ALL of us have struggled with some degree of body image or issues related to restricted food intake. I, myself, went through years of restrictive eating behaviors for the sake of seeing a certain number on the scale, and you know what? Hitting that number never made me even the slightest bit happier.
We so often have unrealistic expectations that hitting a certain weight or looking a certain way will instantly lead to happiness and self-confidence, but that is simply not the case. My goal is to give you some ideas of how you may begin to shift your focus more to health and wellness instead of aesthetics and encourage you to take action on your nutrition goals from a different perspective.
One of the most important first steps you may take to achieving confidence that does not rely on appearance or a number on the scale is to develop alternative measures of success.
- Has your sleep improved?
- How are your energy levels throughout the day?
- Are you speaking more kindly to yourself?
- Are you happier and more relaxed around others?
- Are you less stressed at meal time?
- Are you experiencing less cravings?
- Are you drinking more water?
ALL of these things are just as important when it comes to making sustainable changes as the number on the scale, and they have NOTHING to do with calories.
Remind yourself that your self-worth is not tied to the pounds of gravity that are pulling you toward the core of the earth (aka, again, the number on the scale!). When you find you’re feeling guilty or ashamed about your food intake, write down a compliment about yourself that is entirely unrelated to food or appearance. Keep a journal with all of these kind words and reflect on it when you need to most. Here are a few of my favorite self-positive affirmations:
“I am a wonderful listener, & I’m proud that I listen to understand, not just to respond.”
“I enjoy learning/reading/participating in _____, and that makes me unique.”
“I bring joy to others through my sense of humor.”
Use this graphic as a guide to get started on a journey that is geared less toward weight loss and more toward gaining vitality and happiness.
About the author
Olivia Brant is a Registered Dietitian and owner of Olivia Ashton Nutrition. She uses behavior-based coaching to show women it’s possible to lose weight while enjoying all foods in moderation. If you’d like to learn more about how she works with women to take a positive, non-judgemental, and stress-free approach to weight loss, watch this short video. You can also connect with Olivia on Instagram, YouTube, and in her private Facebook group.