The diet culture is constantly reminding you that you are not good enough at your current weight and being a bit thinner or more toned will improve your health and happiness. In other words, changing what you look like will make you happier, more successful or will make people like you better.
What starts as an innocent attempt to eat a bit healthier or lose a few lbs can easily spiral out of control. When body image dissatisfaction is present, "healthy" eating can quickly turn into dieting which can turn into disordered eating. For many, it doesn't stop there. Dieting is considered to be a precursor to eating disorders due to its restrictive and controlling nature. When we restrict what we eat, we deny our body and brain what it needs. This restriction doesn't just cause weight loss but it can result in malnutrition, nutrient deficiencies and starvation. At a neurobiological level, this can trigger an eating disorder.
As an athlete, fitness enthusiast or health conscious individual, you have a very close relationship with your body. If you have a disordered relationship with food or unhappy thoughts or feelings about your body, you may not be aware of (or care about) the long-term damage that can occur by manipulating your eating and training in order to change your body image.
Social media is oversaturated with images of athletes with six-pack abs, tight glutes and strong, slender legs. Constant exposure to these images can make you believe that you are not built like an athlete - increasing body consciousness, lowering self-esteem and intensifying body dissatisfaction.
Chasing the idea that weighing less will enhance performance can make it easy to mistakenly slip into unhealthy, extreme and disordered eating behaviors.
Successful athletes come in all shapes and sizes. To be successful, you need to be healthy and strong. You need to be consistent with training and you need to take care of your mental health, just as much as your physical health. Restricting food, eliminating food groups or overexercising does not make you a better athlete. It makes you weaker and more fragile. It takes work to embrace your unique traits, strengths and qualities but the process of developing a positive body image is worth it.
If you would like to learn more about body image, fad diets and disordered eating, mark your calendars for Friday May 29th at 10am EST. Head over the to Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition Facebook page where I will be having a live conversation with Kelsey Beckmann RD, LDN. Not only are we both dietitians who specialize in working with athletes but we are both competitive athletes. With considerable personal and professional experiences between us both, we will be sharing our perspective on these three very important topics so that you can learn how to nourish, fuel and train your body while maintaining great health and a great relationship with your body.