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Five Tips for a Diet Culture Free Summer

By: Jillian Phillips

Summer is here! The sun is shining, the weather is getting warmer, but with that sometimes brings anxiety. Diet culture tries its best to bother us in the months leading up to summer, telling us that we need to exercise and eat “healthy” all to attain the unattainable perfect “beach body”. Well, I’m here to remind you that you already have a beach body just by simply existing! All bodies are beach bodies, and you do not have to earn a relaxing beach day, this summer or ever. Here are some tips and reminders before we jump into the summer months (because you deserve a fun, relaxing summer free of diet culture!).

Tip #1: Focus on Functionality

All bodies are good bodies. What do I mean by that? Your body works so hard every day to do its job – to keep you alive and function! It’s your home and it keeps you safe. Your heart is beating, your muscles are contracting and relaxing, and your lungs are breathing air in and out. If you’re having a bad body image day this summer, it can feel nearly impossible to love your body and practice body positivity. Know that it’s okay to not feel positive towards your body. Those feelings are always valid.

Focusing on the functionality of your body allows us to acknowledge and validate our feelings, while still shifting our mindset. Often, we forget that our body’s sole purpose is to help us live life. While we may not love how it looks, we can appreciate our body for all that it does for us. Reframing takes practice but can be incredibly powerful! For example, “I hate my legs” can be reframed to “My legs allow me to get out of bed and go to my favorite places”, “I hate my arms” can be reframed to “My arms allow me to hug my loved ones, play with my dog, swim, etc.”.

Tip #2: Focus on Inner Qualities

Diet culture loves to tell us that our self-worth is defined by the way we look. An important aspect of pushing back against diet culture is understanding that you don’t owe the world “beautiful” …you are so much more than that! You are kind, caring, intelligent, brave, ambitious, the list goes on! You are so much more than a body, so much more than being “beautiful”.

An activity I love that boosts body image and cognitive dissonance is to think of a best friend or family member. Write down three reasons why you’re grateful for them, two things you love about them, and one great memory. I wrote about my older sister who is one of my built-in best friends! Look back on the things you wrote and reflect. What do all these things have in common? None of them have anything to do with the way your loved one looks! On bad body image days, I encourage you to sit with the feelings but also remind yourself that you are so loved because of all your amazing inner qualities. Your friends and family love you for your personality, for your heart!

Tip #3: Clothes are meant to fit you, you are not meant to fit clothes

Diet culture loves to tell us that we need to fit into a certain swimsuit or shorts or dress. This is your reminder to say absolutely NOT! Clothes are meant to fit YOU!

This is where embodiment comes into action. Embodiment is essentially how “at home” you feel in your body. One of the five dimensions is body comfort and connection. This involves feeling in tune and comfortable with one’s body while engaging with the world. This can look like being comfortable and present at a BBQ this summer, rather than being preoccupied with how your body looks. The outfits I feel the most comfortable in are the outfits I feel the most empowered in!

Take your power back this summer by ditching that pair of clothes that aren’t comfortable and opt for new clothes that fit, and make you feel comfortable, confident, and sassy! We acknowledge buying new clothes is a privilege and isn’t a solution for everyone but if you can we highly recommend. Wearing clothes that fit and are comfortable gives you the freedom to take away that anxiety about the way you look and the ability to enjoy that beach day, that BBQ, and any other event.

Tip #4: Focus on what you can add to your plate

The diet culture voice inside of our head bugs us by telling us what foods we should and should not eat. Nutrition is never black and white – meals can include fruits and veggies, AND ice cream and sweets! One day our body may crave more nutrient-dense foods. The next day our body may crave more soul-satisfying foods. Both types of food have no moral value – they are neither good nor bad, just food. They both give our body energy to walk, swim, dance, and do other fun summer activities. Try reframing “What can I take away from my plate” to “What can I add to my plate that will make my plate more colorful?” or “What would make my body feel the best right now?” – that abundance mindset.

Tip #5: Give yourself a social media cleanse

Now this is the only type of cleanse we get behind at Recovered and Restored, plus here is your excuse to go through your Instagram feed. Count how many posts are about beauty, dieting, or even just pictures of people. Think about what your ideal Instagram feed would look like or even better what a mentally safe feed might entail. Is it posts filled with positivity, love, motivation, comfort, safety? You have the power to decide whether these posts are beneficial. You have the power to decide if your feed is a happy, safe space, or if your feed is bad for your mental health. If the answer is that some of the posts and people are bad for your mental health – know you are not alone. You do not have to follow people and things that make you feel bad! EVER! That person who always posts their workouts in a triggering way? Unfollow. That person who always posts body-checking photos that lead to comparison? Unfollow. That person who posts those unrealistic “What I eat in a day” reels? Unfollow!

You always have permission to unfollow and do what is best for your recovery. You deserve to open Instagram and enjoy scrolling through your feed with peace! My favorite Instagram accounts are diverse, ED therapists and dietitians that post information, motivation, and love!

If you enjoyed these tips and want to learn more we are here for you. We know how hard ditching diet culture can be especially during the summer season. Our therapist and RD’s at R and R want to help. We are currently taking new clients or if therapy isn't for you, check out our great free resources.

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Recovered and Restored is an eating disorder therapy center founded by Gabrielle Morreale. We specialize in helping teens and young women heal from eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, and binge eating disorder and treat disordered eating, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. We provide eating disorder therapy in the towns of Horsham, Upper Gwynedd, Lower Gwynedd, North Wales, Lansdale, Hatfield, Blue Bell, Doylestown, and nearby towns with eating disorder therapy. Also providing virtual eating disorder therapy in New Jersey, Delaware, and Florida. Some towns served virtually but are not limited to Pittsburg, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Center City, Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, Mount Laurel, Cape May, Avalon, Brick, Dover, New Castle, Bethany Beach, Marydel, and Oceanview


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