The Intelligent Body: The importance of positive body image for successful eating disorder recovery

Our bodies are more intelligent than you thinkA healthy and positive body image is characterized by a realistic perception of the body’s shape and size. This includes feeling comfortable with your body and implies that not all your mental energy is devoted to thoughts about your body and how it might be perceived by others.

Following on from yesterday’s blog on body image, today’s focus remains on the concept of embodiment. A healthy and positive body image is characterized by a realistic perception of the body’s shape and size. This includes feeling comfortable with your body and implies that not all your mental energy is devoted to thoughts about your body and how it might be perceived by others.


Sadly, the way in which many of us treat our bodies reveal our struggle to accept and respect our body as it is. Some might even claim they hate their body, or parts of it and where these thoughts become compulsive the negative body image poisons the entire self-image. Where the identification is this strong, self-esteem is based entirely on having the ideal body. However, the sad fact is, that in declaring war against our body and subjecting it to abuse, we fail to recognize it for the amazing instrument it is.

While at the extreme, these thoughts are characteristic of individuals suffering from eating disorders, the reality is that many men and women entertain similar, albeit, less punitive thoughts that could encourage eating disorder related behaviors.

In the AA community it is often suggested that you ‘fake it till you make it’. Changing how we act can have a profound impact on how we come to feel and think. This strategy also applies to issues related to body image. Self respect and respect for your body can be exercised in numerous ways, and a starting point could be to dress your body in flattering clothes, grooming it, and naming one thing about it you are grateful for every day. This may sound banal, but often the real power lies in consistently applying a simple principle.

While we were active in our addiction, whether for you that is an eating disorder, substance abuse, or whether you are in the grip of depression, - the body and all its needs are being denied. An essential part of sustained and successful recovery is therefore to reconnect with our bodies and recognizing it as an ally that is capable of conveying how we feel and what we need in any given moment.

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