8 Tips to Have a Positive Body Image and Stop Obsessive Eating Habits

The human body. When you boil it down, it seems rather silly that such an innate thing to our being – like air – can develop so many issues, problems, and mental and emotional turmoil, doesn’t it? What should be thought of in terms of what it can do for us, how complex and beautiful the human body and its systems is, and the skin we live in this world forever instead is thought of in terms of thigh gaps, narrow waists, long legs, perfect cheek bones, and the like.

I recently shared my past battles with disordered eating, and how I overcame it with you a few weeks ago. I won’t go over that again today, but instead, I want to share some tips on how I keep a positive body image and a healthy relationship with food. Namely: how I now don’t think about food all of the time, how I appreciate my body – both aesthetically and physically, and how I eat what I like while still being health-conscious.

Disclaimer: Obviously, my journey is not the same as yours or anyone else’s, and I’m just sharing my experience and what helped me.

1. Realizing that what’s healthy and beautiful for my body may not be another (or every other) person’s healthy and beautiful.

This one came as my self-confidence grew, but I now know that others’ perceptions of beauty are not my own. I know what’s healthy and beautiful to me, and that might not be beautiful to others. . And I love that. On the same token, what might be healthy for someone might be unhealthy for someone else. It’s important for me to remember this, especially if someone else outwardly criticizes your body. It’s all part of owning your positive body image.

2. Affirming that my body is MINE. All of it – and not anyone else’s.image

[photoshopped source]

I know that I have naturally muscular-looking shoulders and a slim waist, but also that I carry my weight in my butt and thighs. I know that I’ll always have some cellulite on my legs, and they won’t ever look like __(insert celebrity with killer legs here)___’s leg… because they’re MINE, not hers. There’s only so much I can change about them – and there’s no photoshop in life to create the so-called perfect body, so I might as well love them!

3. Remembering that food is plentiful, and it’s easy to get more.


Gone are the days where we have to hunt and gather our own food. With a Whole Foods around every corner, and large super markets even more abundant, food is everywhere. I remember when I was still truly in the throes of my eating disorder, and my mom would buy these cinnamon raisin bagels. I would stand at the kitchen counter, and eat bagel after bagel, eating only the good, raisin-y filled bites, and discarding the rest, like if I stopped, I’d never be able to eat one again. In reality? Those Thomas cinnamon raisin bagels (and any other food) were available to me at any time.

4. Letting go of any restrictive diet.


Labeling certain foods as strictly “off limits” can often bring up obsessive feelings and thoughts for anyone who’s ever experienced any sort of disordered eating. I voiced in this post how I felt about restrictive diets, but I also know they’re not for me. I try not to place any sort of label on myself, because having rules (which is basically what they are) for food just doesn’t jive well for me.

5. Love my body how it is, even if I want to change it.

Just because I have a positive body image, doesn’t mean I never want to change my body. Usually around the end of January, I have a few pounds to lose from my “hibernation weight” (ha!) But instead of looking at my body and tearing it apart, I affirm that it’s a rockin’ body just how it is – even while I’m working to tighten up a little bit.

6. Quit equating food with calories, and begin equating it with nourishment.

When food stops being thought of in terms of numbers and how much impact it will have on weight, and starts being thought of as how can this be nourishing, food becomes food again. Counting calories is often what starts the spiral of obsessive eating habits in the first place. That’s how it started with me. From what I’ve experienced, counting calories strictly can lead to obsessive thoughts, and in some cases binge or disordered eating.

7. Surround Yourself with Positive Women


There’s nothing in life like a good group of girlfriends. For me, it’s an absolute necessity. I find that surrounding myself with women who are positive, optimistic, strong,practical, and confident reflects back on me, too. I just don’t tend to gravitate toward women who are self-conscious, insecure, or dramatic because I don’t like the way I feel around them.

8. Focus on the DO instead of the look.


This is something I try to get my clients to focus on ALL. the. time. Even though we might have asthetic goals, it’s important to also focus on what we can DO with our bodies. Whether that’s hiking up a mountain, skiing down blacks, reaching a deadlift PR, or being able to do a full pull up or push up. Focusing on what we can DO can make us appreciate our bodies for their strength and what they are – not what we perceive it to look like.

All of the above help ME be confident in my own skin, but most importantly, I think it’s incredibly important to be self-forgiving when it’s not easy. After all, life is just NOT that serious…it’s as light-hearted, fun, and care-free as we make it Winking smile

Is your body image in check? How do you put negative body image and obsessive thoughts at bay?

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  1. great post Paige. Your posts have really touched me lately and your honesty and positivity is just so inspiring and contagious. I can’t thank you enough! I just wanted you to know how touching your blog has been for me personally and how it has helped me through some tougher times!

  2. Love this post! All great pointers, and I think everyone always needs a reminder sometimes. Too many people are way too hard on themselves!

  3. I adore this post! I think everyone falls into the comparison trap with their bodies sometime, but you’re so right – we can’t have someone else’s body because we have OURS. Some great reminders here lady!
    Sam @ Better With Sprinkles recently posted..Women’s Lifestyle + 1000 Days.My Profile

  4. These are all SO good! I def agree with surrounding yourself with positive influences. Good girlfriends do wonders for the self esteem!
    Brittany @ Delights and Delectables recently posted..Unplugging: It’s Worth ItMy Profile

  5. Awesome tips! And amen to loving the body you have, even if wanting to change it. That is so key to being happy and content, yet able to set goals & achieve them. And focusing on the DO of what the body does & not how it looks all the time. Such great points!

  6. These are awesome tips. I especially love #5 – that realization has helped me SO much.
    Danica @ It’s Progression recently posted..scenes from the weekend 3.24.14My Profile

  7. I so appreciate this post! I definitely struggle at times with many of the points you made – and #3s and 4 especially. I find it difficult often to remember that there will ALWAYS (well, maybe not always, but most of the time at least) be more food and that *this* time is not the only time I’ll have to enjoy whatever it is, be it a “healthy” food or an “indulgent” food. I also struggle when it comes to eating certain types of food – almost being like, “look at me, I’m comfortable eating [fill in the blank food], as if it means that I don’t have an issue with it. But just by announcing it could mean there’s underlying fear/perceived notion on if a food is “good” or “bad”. Things to think about, for sure!
    Jen @ Bagels to Broccoli recently posted..Weekend Eats – 3/22/14My Profile

    • I hear ya. I’ve gotten over my food sharing issues, too. I used to panic when anything was family style or we shared a bunch of small dishes. I still prefer ordering my own meal, but I don’t panic when it’s time to share, either.

  8. Food is plentiful!!! Yes that one for some reason was an issue for me. Well I guess it’s because I’m kind of picky, so I would eat more just in case…then also eat when we got somewhere, whoops!
    Amanda – RunToTheFinish recently posted..Discomfort vs Pain: the runner’s dilemmaMy Profile

  9. Totally agree on all accounts – especially surrounding yourself with positive friends and family!!
    RunEatRepeat recently posted..Bowling and Motivation Monday In Case You Need Motivation to BowlMy Profile

  10. Oh the whole comparison trap. I definitely could use a little reminder of what’s mine is mine every now and then. Thanks for another awesome post!
    Brittany @ Barr & Table recently posted..The Great Peanut Butter Cup DebateMy Profile

  11. Well said! I feel like I have made huge strides in this area in the last year, and discovering how to strike a balance between good health and not taking myself too seriously has made life so much more fun.
    Natalie @ Free Range Human recently posted..Family Fun RunMy Profile

  12. As already mentioned above, great post! I love the points and can not agree more about living life without “off limits” foods and restrictions in order to live disordered free. The slope is too steep for me to try a certain diet. I have been in the thrust of disordered eating in the past and know that food and exercise “rules” are not good for me. LOVE living my life in the freedom of “ALL FOODS FIT”.
    Jenn@Mark My Miles! recently posted..Sweaty clothes + Irish foodMy Profile

  13. food in abundance… AMEN. The best thing that happened to me was working in africa. I learned how scarce food is there and to appreciate what we have, not obsess!
    lindsay recently posted..Savoring Springtime SuppersMy Profile

  14. I love this post so much! Thanks for sharing :-) I think it’s so sad that so many women don’t have much confidence and are always comparing themselves to others. I totally agree with #7 of surrounding yourself with positive women! Lets all build each other up!
    Tori L recently posted..March Date Night & Food QuirksMy Profile

  15. Fabulous tips here! I haven’t been having the best body image, but I am working on it. :)
    Natalie Staeckeler recently posted..Going Out of My Comfort ZoneMy Profile

  16. I definitely eat like every meal is my last, LOL!!! Whoops!
    GiGi Eats Celebrities recently posted..Asparagus: Aroused By SpringMy Profile

  17. i surround myself by people, things, and activities that make me feel good – not put me down or feel bad about myself!
    Linz @ Itz Linz recently posted..34 Weeks Pregnant | Diaper DiscussionMy Profile

  18. Awesome post! Focusing on #8 has changed so many things for me (in a very positive way)!
    Parita @ myinnershakti recently posted..Food That Needs To Be Made SoonMy Profile

  19. Fantastic post, Paige! Tweeted. Thank you.
    Kammie @ Sensual Appeal recently posted..Java Mocha Gluten Free Protein Waffles Recipe – Good Morning Waffles!My Profile

  20. girrrrrrl omg what an amazing post
    Meg @ A Dash of Meg recently posted..High Five Friday #111My Profile

  21. Great post!! I saw this linked to on another blog and am so glad I did.

    As someone in recovery from an eating disorder, I write about body image a lot on my blog. You made great points about the importance of surrounding ourselves with positive women and letting go of any restrictive diets. Thanks!!
    Hope recently posted..Who Keeps You Healthy?My Profile

  22. Love this post, definitely gonna share it! Love #3 and #4. When you start to realize that the food is around if you want seconds or a snack later, your perspective shifts. I’m finishing up the amazing book Women, Food, & God by Geneen Roth, and it talks a lot about this too.
    Lauren recently posted..Should you Fear Saturated Fat?My Profile

  23. I absolutely love this! Fantastic post! I am so interested in the media and body image in general (I feel the media these days really does have a huge impact on the way women view themselves). I’ve been wanting to write a post on this myself, and then I randomly came across this written by you. You explained things so clearly, and it really hits a nerve in me (in a good way). Thanks for such a positive, inspiring post!

  24. Exceptional posting. I’d been examining frequently your blog using this program . inspired! Very useful information and facts especially the closing portion :) I tackle such information lots. I became looking for this particular particular details for some time. Thank you and of success.

  25. Great post! I read this one and the one on your eating disorder and you ROCK! Thank you for being you, being honest, and for making such amazing progress in loving you and your body. I feel like we’ve all been there and it is hard and we are so hard on ourselves, but it is inspiring to read stories like this and to see how far you have come….XOXO

  26. I wish it was but this is something I still work on and struggle with most days. I love the idea of thinking of food as nourishment as opposed to calories or weight.


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