And in order to change you need to...

When I loved myself enough, I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy. This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs and habits – anything that kept me small. My judgement called it disloyal. Now I see it as self-loving.” – Kim McMillen

Do you look in the mirror each morning and think – “I’m just so in awe of my body – the way it allows me to move, dance, live life and have fun”. Chances are, your encounters with the mirror aren’t quite so enjoyable. Rather than appreciating all of the wonderful things that your body does for you, you scrutinise how it looks, picking yourself apart.

Take a quick moment to stop and ask yourself how highly you value yourself. Do you love and appreciate yourself? Do you value your body, your intelligence, your talents and your abilities? Or do you spend most of your time thinking about how you aren’t quite thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough…or something else enough? A lot of us were taught to be modest growing up and of course, not bragging about yourself to anyone that decides to listen is probably a good thing. However, what this modesty has morphed into for many of us, is extreme internal negativity. By that I mean, that when we talk to ourselves and when we perceive ourselves, we do so in a way that focuses on our flaws and ignores all of those great things about us.

A very important step to take, if you want to change your lifestyle and eating habits, is to build up your self-esteem. So many people that I have worked with, whether overweight, obese or slim, lack confidence and are very critical of themselves. Rather than focusing on their beautiful eyes, they obsess about their wobbly thighs, rather than enjoy their long hair, they worry about their flabby tummy, rather than celebrate the good things about themselves, they are fixated upon those few things about their appearance that they do not like. This is doing them no favours when it comes to changing their relationship with food.

When someone with low self-esteem goes on a diet or tries to get healthy, they are doing so to punish their body for not being good enough. However, to really want to take care of something over the long term, you NEED to love and appreciate it. If you do not love and appreciate your body right now, you are never going to want to nourish it and nurture it. You are never going to want to look after it by feeding it healthy food that is good for you. Instead you will keep choosing to punish it with unhealthy food and starving yourself – hating your body will keep you trapped in the cycle of eating badly (for the short-term hit of pleasure it gives you) and then trying to diet because you are too “fat” or “unattractive”. Hating your body can also itself drive you to comfort eat because you feel bad about yourself. Basically – nothing good comes out of self-loathing.

Think about it this way - which child is more likely to thrive? One you nurture, show love to, use kind words with and take care of or one you criticise, punish and abuse for not being good enough? The first of these two children is, of course, more likely to be happy, healthy and enjoy their life. It seems so obvious when we think about how we are treating other people and yet for most people it is not natural at all, when it comes to how they treat themselves.