Let Go of Negative Body Image in Eating Disorder Recovery

August 30, 2017 Z Zoccolante

A negative body image in eating disorders is common. Here’s the reason our negative body image is the last thing we let go of in our eating disorder recovery.

Negative body image in eating disorder recovery is often the last thing you let go. It’s said that a negative body image is the first thing to come and the last to leave. Hating our bodies is a theme even though eating disorders aren’t really about what our bodies look like on the outside. Here’s the reason negative body image in our eating disorder recovery is the last thing we let go.

A Negative Body Image in an Eating Disorder Isn't About Weight

I remember the moment that I realized eating disorders weren’t about wanting to be skinny. I was at the hospital and the group counselor kept saying that eating disorders were a Band-Aid to cover up what was underneath. I remember being irritated and scoffing in my head about how condescending and smart she thought she was. I like to eat and I don’t want to get fat so I run and watch what I eat, and when I binge and purge, I throw up. I just don’t want to be fat, I thought. I thought it was that simple.

Look deeper, they kept telling me, and I thought, “There’s a deeper?”

But, yes, there is a deeper. Eating disorders, like all addictions, are an unhealthy coping tool for dealing with any emotion that we’re uncomfortable feeling. It becomes a way to not feel.

Negative Body Image in Eating Disorder Recovery Is Hard to Shake

A negative body image is the first to creep into our eating disorder, which is why it makes sense it’s the last one to go. It’s been the strongest and longest fixation. It was the easy thing to focus on – make my thighs smaller, my stomach tiny, my arms thin. Whatever it was we wanted our bodies to do, it became our fixation in the mirror, the reason we exercised like a maniac, why we started dieting in the first place to change what we saw in order to change how we felt inside.

Keep in mind that it may take a while to get rid of your negative body image in eating disorder recovery. After all, you’ve spent so much time and energy hating it. It’s only natural to be patient along the path to your new body acceptance and love.

Five Ways to Love Your Body in Eating Disorder Recovery

  1. Touch.
    Touch the part of your body that used to be your most unfavorite. Touch it with love. Tell it that you appreciate what it does for you, such as allow you to walk (if it’s your legs, etc.). Thank it and tell it that you’re going to take care of it from now on in a healthy way.
  2. Observe.
    When you’re out in a public place, look around and observe other people’s bodies. Look at how many shapes and sizes there are and the different ways people move. Silently find something that you like about each person. Then use what you learned finding nice things about others to give that back to yourself and your body.
  3. Move.
    Take up a class or some form of movement that allows to you be in your body. Some favorites are dance, aerial silk, or pole dancing. One of my friends loves simply walking in her neighborhood. Many pole dancers or aerial silk students love being able to feel feminine and to appreciate their bodies for its strength and flow.
  4. Practice self-care.
    Take a hot bath, wear clothes that make you feel happy, or eat foods that feel nourishing in your body. It’s important to do little things for ourselves and remind ourselves that we are worthy of the love we give ourselves daily.
  5. Get a massage.
    Safe touch is so important to learn how to receive. Massage is a safe, soothing way to relax. If you’re shy, ask a friend for a recommendation for a massage therapist. And, no, they are not thinking about your body in a judgmental way. They are there to relax you and work out your knots.

There are so many ways to begin to love and appreciate our bodies during recovery. Choose any of the above, or your personal, favorite way, to begin a kind relationship with the skin you're in for life. Get rid of your negative body image in eating disorder recovery and keep walking your recovery path.

APA Reference
Zoccolante, Z. (2017, August 30). Let Go of Negative Body Image in Eating Disorder Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 16 from

Author: Z Zoccolante

Z Zoccolante
September, 13 2017 at 9:50 pm

I hear you and believe you when you say that you hate your body right now. The truth is that starving yourself is a road to the breaking down of your body and to death. If you are willing to die then what do you have to loose in trying everything you can do before you starve yourself? I don't know your life, but it sounds like there is a lot of suffering. Would you be willing to check out a therapist in your area who specializes in eating disorders? Would you be willing to look at your eyes the mirror for 30 days and tell yourself, "I love you." Write me back. I want to know more about this Melanie. But just know that you are not alone, even when it may feel that way. You are not alone.

September, 13 2017 at 4:31 am

I hate my body so much I just want to starve it to death. I feel like my body is a prison keeping me trapped in an awful life. I feel like starving myself could be a road to freedom but a very difficult road.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Martha Lueck
September, 14 2017 at 9:14 am

Hi Melanie,
I'm sorry that you feel that way about your body. While I cannot fully relate to the desire to starve yourself, I can tell you that I have struggled with my body image as well. For me, it was a case that I just wanted to look like those typical "skinny girls" in high school. At the time, I thought I was chubby and was very aware that I ate VERY unhealthy. So I cut out all fast food and stuck to a very strict low-calorie diet.
Looking back, I was not any healthier because my mental state was flawed. Better was never "good enough". Even when I started exercising a lot, the "good feeling" was only temporary. I would have actually been better off finding a balanced diet and exercising for half an hour a day than worrying so much about getting the "perfect" body.
What I am trying to say is that while body image can be a huge struggle, cutting out food is not the best solution. People worry so much about what they look like and think that makin excessive changes will help them feel better. In reality, trying to do too much can stress you out and lead to (or worsen) anxiety.
Is there anything else you would like to change besides eating habits? What do you like about yourself? I have been finding that writing little improvements I have made and positive things about myself help me worry less about my body image.
Good luck! I believe that you can find love for yourself and your body. Feel free to write me back.

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