Body & Food: Helping Without Harming

Sitting in session with a therapist many years ago, I confessed my frequent desire to visit the Krispy Kreme drive thru on my way from my therapy sessions back to my life. We did a little exploration of this emotional eating urge to self-soothe, and then she led me through a meditation that included her subtly shaming this choice by saying "Of course, you know the doughnuts are not good for you." From my perspective, I knew that there were times when I intentionally choose to self-soothe with food, and as long as I was doing this action with conscious awareness, it was an action I viewed as neutral. Her bias about doughnuts came through, I felt misattuned to, and she no longer felt like a safe person for me to explore my food and body issues with.

Are you a helping professional working with clients who present with food and body issues? Would you like to increase your skills, knowledge and sensitivity to supporting your clients with body image disturbances and food issues in a way that builds attunement, connection and trust rather than unintentionally harm by increasing your client's shame? If so, here are three important action steps you can take:

  1. Explore any hidden sizeism/weightism in your mindset. Sizeism/weightism is a prejudice that happens without much awareness in our society. It is necessary to explore our hidden biases regarding weight stigma to create safety around body image challenges.
  2. Explore your personal food philosophy. Like many of our personal value systems, our role is to support our client's to develop their own food value system and help them create balance and flexibility within their food relationship, rather than projecting our personal food values onto our clients.
  3. Build your skill set in addressing the underlying issues represented by food and body image challenges. Body image is a mirror of self-image and can be a beautiful partner in uncovering and understanding the deeper issues that need to be addressed. Food is a representation of the relationship we have with ourselves. This relationship shines a light on our patterns of self-care and nourishment

If you are finding that you would like to increase these skills as a professional, you are invited to a special Continuing Education event presented by Nutritionist, Kendra Gaffney, and myself. We will be gathering in beautiful Asheville, NC on Friday, May 11th from 9am - 1pm to provide a training on Becoming Body Image and Nourishment Allies. More information is included on this flyer. And you can sign-up here.

May we all be sensitive to our client's as we support them with their food and body challenges.

Walk in beauty,

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Heidi AndersenComment