How to Love Your Body and Practice Self-Acceptance

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Intuitive Eating" by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Are you hyper-focused on having the perfect body? How can you love your body the way it is?

The relentless pressure from societal expectations can turn eating into a struggle for many people. That’s why Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch tells you to accept your unique body and ditch the diets that are causing you to hate it.

Continue reading to learn how to love your body.

Reject Diets and Accept Your Unique Body

One way to tune in to your body’s needs is to stop dieting and learn how to love your body as it is now. This requires letting go of the pressure to conform to a specific body size and instead prioritizing your overall physical, mental, and emotional health.

Because dieting interferes with your internal cues and compels you to focus on external factors like numbers on a weighing scale, Tribole and Resch recommend that you abandon diets and avoid anything that might cause you to fixate on your weight. Here are some ways to achieve this:

Encourage Self-Acceptance by Practicing Self-Care

Even after you remove everything related to dieting from your life, you may find it challenging to accept your body as it is and resist the pressure to manage your weight. To overcome the temptation to give in to this pressure, Tribole and Resch suggest practicing self-care and cultivating respect for your body. Their suggestions for achieving this include:

1) Break free from external influences: Let go of comparisons to others by focusing on the unique qualities that make you feel good about yourself. Additionally, avoid people who make comments about your weight or eating patterns, and surround yourself with supportive friends who appreciate you for who you are.

(Shortform note: According to Louise Hay (You Can Heal Your Life), focusing on qualities that make you feel good about yourself automatically removes unwanted external influences from your life. She argues that every experience reflects your opinion of yourself: If you don’t accept your body, you send out emotional signals that cause other people to mirror your lack of acceptance back to you—for example, by making you feel uncomfortable about your body. She suggests that practicing self-love affirmations improves your self-perception and the emotional signals you emit, leading others to respond to you more positively. The affirmations can be statements such as “I love and appreciate myself.”)

2) Embrace body positivity: Appreciate the functionality and capabilities of your body by replacing self-critical thoughts about your body with self-affirming ones such as, “My body is strong and capable,” or “I am beautiful just as I am.”

(Shortform note: Emily Nagoski (Come As You Are) suggests complementary advice: Examine your naked body in the mirror and list everything you like. When self-critical thoughts arise, let them go by remembering the perspective you had of your body before society taught you to internalize self-criticism. By making this a daily practice, you’ll gradually unlearn the cultural tendency of self-judgment, as well as the self-criticism your body may trigger.)

3) Nurture self-care: Indulge in soothing treatments or massages that promote a positive connection with your body. Enhance this connection by wearing clothing that flatters your personal style and boosts your confidence in your own skin.

(Shortform note: If you’re unsure how to incorporate self-care practices into your routine, consider partnering with a supportive friend for added encouragement and motivation. Together, you can explore various self-care activities, such as visiting spas, shopping for clothes, or engaging in body-positive classes. This shared journey offers mutual support that makes the process more enjoyable and sustainable, empowering both of you to develop a healthier and more positive body image.)

How to Love Your Body and Practice Self-Acceptance

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Here's what you'll find in our full Intuitive Eating summary:

  • Why eating is often associated with guilt, shame, and fear
  • How diets damage your relationship with food
  • Ways to cultivate a healthy relationship with food

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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