Ditch the diet: How to love your body, just the way it is

A little body love can go a long way to helping us lead a healthier, happier and more active life.

But research last year found that many Australians are unhappy with their body and appearance.

A report on body esteem by The Butterfly Foundation found more than 40 per cent of people were dissatisfied with their appearance, and 73 per cent of people wished they could change the way they looked.

And 53 per cent of people rarely or never spoke positively about their appearance.

“Never before has the intensity around image and appearance been so high,” says Danni Rowlands, The Butterfly Foundation’s prevention services national manager.

“There have always been appearance ideals, but the perfectionistic aspects of appearance are much more highly valued these days.

“There is an obsession around not ageing, there is a fear of fatness and people pursue a perfect shape and weight.

“When people don’t measure up to the stereotypes and images they see in the media and on social media, they may feel dissatisfied.”

Many people turn to dieting to try to fit the “slim is beautiful” stereotype.

But people are being urged to have a healthy, balanced relationship with food, exercise and their body – no matter what their size or shape.

Learn how to appreciate your body

Danni says there are a number of things we can do to love and appreciate our bodies:

Have an honest conversation about you feel about your body

Why do you have these feelings? Where do they come from? Be aware of things that can trigger you to feel dissatisfied.

Avoid comparing yourself with social media images

“Social media is influencing people in a negative way,” says Danni.

“People keep following and searching for images and if you compare yourself to those images often, that isn’t helpful.”

Find movement and activity you enjoy for your health and wellbeing

“When you engage in positive activities and use your body, you feel more positive about your shape and size,” adds Danni.

Remind yourself you are OK the way you are

“Internally, people bully their body and appearance. Find ways to stop that toxic appearance talk and challenge the idea that there is a right and wrong way to look,” says Danni.

Focus on what your body does for you each day

Rather than fretting about your appearance, examine the things your body can do and celebrate that.

If you need support, contact The Butterfly Foundation National Helpline on 1800 334 673.

Written by Sarah Marinos.