Self-kindness and eating: What Does It Look Like?
Could self-kindness (or self-compassion as it is also called) be the missing ingredient in nutrition that most people lack?
Self-kindness can be described as being kind to one’s self in times of perceived inadequacy, failure, or suffering.
1. Self-Kindness vs. Self-Judgment
Being kind and understanding toward oneself in instances of pain, failure or when expectations do not match is key, rather than being harshly self-critical.
When it comes to nutrition and improving dietary intake, using harsh judgement which induces shame with others and one’s self is not an effective motivator to change.
Body image concerns are extremely common today amongst both men, women and children. The judgement of bodies usually translates into using food, nutrition and exercise as a means to try and improve feelings of discontent, disgust and inadequacy around how bodies exist.
2. Common Humanity vs. Isolation
Perceiving one’s experiences as part of the larger human experience rather than seeing them as isolating.
It is not uncommon to feel isolated in dealing with nutrition and body image struggles. You are not alone in feeling the way you do.
When it comes to our body, we need to accept we don’t have control over it and trying to interfere with our body-set-weight makes us heavier.
We are all human.
We are perfectly imperfect. A very small minority of the population will ever look a little bit like supermodels, because even supermodels themselves don’t look like themselves in photos.
3. Mindfulness vs. Over-Identification
Bring awareness to negative thoughts and feelings and allow them to naturally move on rather than trying to control and over-identifying with them or turning them into a general statement, fact or your new truth.
Some great ways to stay mindful and to let go and avoid internalising thoughts and feelings is to say, “I am having a thought/feeling that……”Some other ways to diffuse thoughts and feelings can be seen here.
A key point to remember when working to improve dietary habits or nutrition is that we are changing our behaviour not because there is anything wrong with us or because we are worthless or unacceptable, but because we want to care ourselves – and improve our health and happiness.
Practising self-kindness is a game changer. It’s a win-win situation – the positive flow-on effect benefits everybody.
Overall, self-compassion fuels positive health-promoting behaviours and reduces the likelihood that people will engage in disordered eating and other lifestyle behaviours in attempts to improve body image.
How will you take your daily dose of self-kindness?