Just as we now know that alcoholism is not just a “man’s disease,” we also know that eating disorders and poor body image aren’t just “women’s problems.”
At least one million men suffer from eating disorders, according to the National Institutes of Health. A study in JAMA Pediatrics revealed that nearly 18 percent of adolescent boys are highly concerned about weight – and this also makes them more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors like binge drinking and drug use.
In fact, food and body image struggles often surface after the substance use has ceased, during early recovery.
6 Things to Tell Yourself to Boost Body Image
If you’re suffering form poor body image, in addition to seeking help from a professional, there are some things you can say to yourself to help you feel better about your body. Get started with these tips adopted from the National Eating Disorder Association:
- You are not just your body. Body size, shape, or weight doesn’t determine your worth as a person, or your identity as a man. In fact, it’s those qualities not related to appearance that make you, well, you. For example, are you patient, caring, creative, a good friend? Focus on honing your unique gifts and potential, developing meaningful relationships, establishing goals, and contributing to life.
- Your body is unique. Bodies come in all different shapes and sizes and there’s no such thing as a “right” body shape or size. Consider giving up your goal of achieving the “perfect” male body and work at accepting your body just the way it is.
- Your body is amazing. If you’re going to focus on your body, take note of what it does not what it looks like. For instance, marvel at the way your thighs help you run or your arms enable you to hug a loved one.
- You have the power to think positively. Negative self-talk does more harm than good, so the next time you find yourself saying, “I look fat,” stop and substitute the thought with a positive message: “I’m a worthwhile person and my weight does not define me.”
- Your friends do matter. Now more than ever it’s important to surround yourself with people who respect and support you. If you’re struggling with body image, you may want to limit interactions with friends who are overly concerned with weight or appearance.
- Diet and exercise are not just for weight loss. A healthy focus on physical activity and proper nutrition is important for your own self-care and to give you energy for lasting sobriety.
Body Image Help at Red Oak
For clients who struggle with body size and image, we offer groups and individual support. We encourage clients to address their concerns and the challenges they may be facing as their newly sober body begins to change. To find out more, call today: 828.382.9699.