Why Has Trusting Our Bodies Become So Difficult?

Lucy Tombs

After personally dealing with disordered eating and body image issues for most of my life, I have recently felt a lot of guilt surrounding the way that I perceive and talk to my body. Throughout my years of struggling to control my weight and intensely restricting my diet, I have developed a level of distrust towards my physical body, often viewing it as an antagonist.

Imagine fighting with your worst enemy, and then realising that you have to live with that enemy 24/7, with no form of escape. Well, that was how I have felt for the majority of my life. However, recently I started to realise that the solution to my problems with my weight was not to create a negative narrative surrounding my personal image but was to realise the positive potential of my own body. Today, when I start to think negatively about my body, I ask myself: would you say that to your best friend? If the answer is no, then why would I say it to myself!

In our society’s diet-centred culture, we are socialised to think of the human body as something that can spin out of control, an object to be monitored and altered. A large reason for this is down to social media, which is saturated with extreme diet and wellness plans that instruct us not to listen to our bodies.

These viral strict diets fail to recognise that everyone’s body is different

For example, diets often centre around a mind over body mantra and tell individuals to ignore their hunger cues and cravings, which can often result in binge-eating behaviour. These viral strict diets fail to recognise that everyone’s body is different, implementing a one size fits all regime and then proceeding to force individuals to blame themselves when these plans don’t work! As a result, we learn to distrust our bodies and become frustrated with them when they won’t get smaller or leaner, punishing ourselves through a toxic cycle of negative, self-reprimanding thoughts and even more diets!

As I have learnt, dieting and weight management can quickly become an obsession as the discourse of diet culture begins to permeate our lives on every level. Even the way we speak to our close friends reflects this trend as we automatically refer to our bodies using negative language. Think about when you click onto a zoom call and say, “sorry I look awful today”, or when you talk to your friends about “being bad” because you ate a doughnut. We have become apologetic about the mere existence of our bodies and we feel intrinsically guilty when we eat something that diet-culture has labelled as “bad”.

Your body is on your team

Whilst I am calling attention to this issue, this article is not trying to shame individuals for doing so. It has become natural that we don’t trust our bodies because we have been socialised to think in this way. However, what this article hopes to accomplish is to remind you that your body is on your team.

We fail to recognise all of the remarkable things our bodies do for us on a daily basis. We struggle to see that they solely exist to keep us alive and that our bodies actually ask for very little from us. They allow us to breathe in fresh air, to hug our friends and family, to see the world around us, to touch and connect with nature; the list goes on and on.

So, what does it mean to trust your body? Whilst it may sound easier on paper, learning to gain trust in your body can take time and is a journey of personal growth and respect. It means listening to the physical signs of your body, rather than the instructions of a diet plan. This can also mean way more than just listening for hunger cues; it can also be recognising fatigue, a build-up of stress and butterflies in your stomach.

Ultimately it means to truly feel and understand our needs and emotions. Our body spends a lot of time trying to communicate to us and it is important that we stop ignoring it! When we start to think outside of the box of diet and wellness culture, and actually listen and work with our bodies, not against them, this is when we will feel most fulfilled and at peace.

Lucy Tombs

Featured image courtesy of Diana Polekhina via Unsplash. Image license found hereNo changes were made to this image. 

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