Whilst this blog primarily helps you reduce your sugar cravings, overcome sugary emotional eating and the rest of it, I want to take this time to cover something that is important and potentially related to your relationship with sugar.
The topic of how to feel more confident with your body.
Why do body confidence tips help with sugar cravings?
Well, because low body confidence can be the root cause of cravings and can make you eat more sugar.
Feeling really naff about your body causes negative emotions including upset, frustration and desperation amongst others.
If sugar is your default response to negative emotions, hello non-physical sugar craving!
The need to stuff down or temporarily cover up what you’re feeling, combined with the dopamine effect on your brain that sugar (or sweetness) has, can make your favourite sugar form of choice ever so tempting on those unappealing body days.
The sugar somewhat soothed the pain of the emotion before so it can do it again right? Repeat this pattern a few times and your emotional eating body confidence related sugar habit cycle is born.
Triggered by things like:
- Weighing yourself and seeing that it’s gone up (thanks scales!)
- Seeing a photo that someone has taken of you that is far from desirable (thanks Facebook!)
- Seeing photos of others and comparing yourself (thanks Instagram!)
- Feeling bloated or suffering from water retention (thanks pms!)
- Wearing something too tight (thanks H&M for blatantly WRONG sizes!)
My experience with body confidence
I write all of this because I’ve been particularly curious and exploring body confidence more recently with myself, my close frineds and some of my clients. The last year has been a huge learning curve for me in terms of body confidence because I’ve had to work extra flipping hard to cultivate and practice it.
Going back before this, I didn’t even really think about body confidence for many years because I was primarily pre-occupied with maintaining my figure – keeping a certain weight and trying to change the things I didn’t like. I had that feeling that I could always be doing better i.e. be slimmer, more toned etc.
I don’t want body confidence, I want to be skinnier! Then, when I’ve reached that point I will be really body confident and not worry about anything anymore ever!
It seemed that simple.
Yet I emotionally ate on ‘fat’ or body dissatisfaction days and frustratingly sabotaged what I was trying to do in the first place.
It was more complex.
A few years ago, I went on holiday with my family to Greece. I have an extremely attractive (and amazing!) sister Amy who is 8 years younger with a body frame that is a few sizes smaller than me. We actually have relatively similar figures, she is just smaller (see picture)
Before the holiday, I remember feeling secretly determined that I would get as skinny as possible so that I didn’t feel fat next to Amy.
I seem to remember I did alright and lost a few pounds as I had the nutritional/exercise knowledge and could leave off sugar like a pro. However, like most women in the world I still wasn’t completely happy with my body before I went (despite having a perfectly good figure).
I spent some days of my holiday slightly comparing myself or feeling dissatisfied with my body – if my thighs were a bit thinner, I could wear the denim hotpants with crop-tops like Amy does.
Then one night Amy was on Instagram. Scrolling through these beach body perfect models exclaiming that she wanted to get abs like that, that she was going to eat like XYZ to look like that and wear that. That she wasn’t happy with her thighs!
She was 19 years old doing this.
I was mortified.
Mortified at Instagram. Mortified that my lovely sister was falling for these mental demons that I was also succumbing to. Mortified that she wasn’t appreciating her amazing figure right then right now – she was striving for perfection that possibly just wasn’t worth it.
Then I realised I was doing exactly the same too. This is messed up!
When I returned from the holiday, I was also at that time facing the prospect that to get my periods back I needed to potentially put on a bit of ‘healthy’ weight and increase by body fat %.
This was also mortifying, because deep down I knew how much of my self worth was tied to my figure and how crap I would feel if I was bigger.
Now I’m not saying that wanting at certain points in time to lose weight is always a bad thing, but it’s worth noting when it feels over consuming, obsessive or too heavily tied to your sense of worth that you are emotional eating when it doesn’t go to plan. This is where body confidence techniques can actually help you eat less and feel better about yourself so you change your body in a healthy way.
So what happened…
Two years later from the holiday, having put on the extra weight I needed to (luckily I don’t weight myself much to know exactly) I have my periods back and am ‘healthy’ in all senses. But heck, have I had to embrace body confidence to deal with it.
So I really wanted to share load of body confidence tips I’ve picked up along the way that I have been practicing with varying but steady success in the hope they will help you tap into this when you need:
Reframe the inner dialogue
I know you read it everywhere but the negative self talk really is a beggar at times. I can’t express how much mindfulness (i.e. catching myself and reframing my thoughts) has been huge here for me which is why this is top of the list.
Try to focus on the things you do like about your body or the positives elsewhere in your life that are more significant. I used ‘my body is now healthy to have a baby’ for a while and ‘I can now wear a much wider range of tops without feeling flat chested’ or ‘I have an amazing opportunity to help others and my mental energy is better used to do that right now’
It doesn’t work all the time but with practice it becomes more familiar and soon becomes a nice mindfulness habit.
Also think of the fact you can move or do cool things with your body like play with children, lots of sports, dance etc.
Wear comfortable clothes
I remember being defiant that I would still wear the same pencil skirt one day.
Not only was I late to a meeting because I was walking like a penguin, I was reminded nearly on a minute to minute basis that I was notably not the same shape and it was horrible.
I felt it when I sat down, when I bent over and even breathing – like a constant reminder. I especially felt bad about myself this day and thus I ended up emotionally eating a totally unnecessary granola bar on the way home from work.
The days where I wear comfortable clothes, this doesn’t happen so much. Old uncomfortable pencil skirt no more. Nice still flattering maxi skirt, yes please.
Throw comparison out (when you can)
I know this is challenging but comparison really is the thief of joy.
If it’s models or celebrities, remind yourself they have airbrushing and a gazillion photograph shot iterations.
If it’s fitness models, remind yourself that they have more time to exercise where you maybe have kids, a demanding job, ambitions and other hobbies.
If it’s your sister or friends, remind yourself they’ve got hang ups in just the same way and you are all beautifully different.
Yes, sometimes people can inspire you to make healthy change around your body where they set an example you’d like to follow, but you need to strike a balance. Only you know when this goes too far and you fall down some comparison black hole (we all do it!).
Become a critical viewer of social media
Seeing as we’re on the Instagram fitness model topic, just start to notice which feeds, images or quotes make you feel good about yourself and which don’t. Use this to alter your feed accordingly.
I like to follow a nice mixture of health & fitness inspiration along with body confidence stuff to keep it balanced. Think of your media consumption as mindset food! Oh and please don’t use someone’s Instagram feed as a benchmark because you know it’s not a real representation of life!
Spend time with less on (& more in front of the mirror)
You know when you haven’t been to a hot country for ages and stepping out in a bikini feels so foreign and scary?
Compare this to the last day when you’ve worn the bikini everyday and saunter up to the bar quite comfortably more concerned with the drink you want to order. You kinda get over the big deal of your bare flesh as the days go on right?
This is you getting more used to and familiar with your own skin and you can cultivate the same process without the need for a holiday.
Walking around at home in your underwear, looking at yourself nude more often in the mirror or even doing your make-up whilst naked can actually change the perception of your body to become more positive over time. So give it a go!
Surround yourself with more body confident people
This can be somewhat challenging if you’ve a guilty pleasure of complaining about your body or your eating habits with like minded friends. Heck women do this all the time and sometimes you won’t be able to escape it. Sometimes you might just want to indulge it like a bad habit because it feels familiar and easy.
You can however, stop initiating it and reduce the frequency.
You can identify people who don’t do the whole negative body chat stuff and stick around them more.
You can admire and observe people who blatantly just don’t think about their bodies that much and are evidently comfortable in their own skin.
You can try to switch a conversation to more positive terms, change the subject or state what you’re liking about yourself at the moment.
Our bodies are amazing. Use exercise to really appreciate this. Enjoy exercise for the challenge, the process of it and what your physical limbs are capable of.
Yoga and dance have been game changers for me. No, I am nowhere near doing a head or handstand yet, but I’ve really enjoyed the process of seeing my strength and tone increase slowly over time and really seen my mindfulness practice develop too (which helps you stop comparing yourself to very slim yogis!).
Toss the scales
I’ve worked with a number of clients who have weighed themselves on a specific occasion, and not liked the number. This has subsequently led to a sugar binge of sorts. Regular use of scales or other forms of constant measurement are prime territory for self or body dissatisfaction based sugar binging.
I know you may think that it keeps you on track, but have a look back if it’s also triggered an overeating binge of any sort. Iff the answer is yes, question the use of your measurement and if it’s really helping.
This post is already pretty open for me. I’m not quite ready to detail out a specific story here, especially as my Mum reads it!!
However, I don’t want to leave this out because talking to others about increasing their body confidence, there was a unanimous vote that it helped, like loads. Do what you need to do 😉
Grooming & new things
I’ve been away in Bali with the same wardrobe for nearly 6 months. My friend came out to visit with a load of new clothes I could borrow and I felt amazing in some of the new outfits. New stuff works. Make up, perfume, nice nails etc. all work. Someone complimenting you on the new look can obviously help.
Get grooming to feel good inside and out!
Accept the time of the month
If naff body confidence emotions are hitting you hard, check in on the time of the month.
I’ve written before on how to manage pms sugar cravings and avoiding body confidence emotional eating through being aware of what is going on with your physical body at particular times of the month.
Body confidence equals less sugar
So there’s my lot on how to get more body confident so you can reduce emotional distress and thus reduce the amount of sugar you eat. This then might make you lose weight or slowly change your body later down the line also.
Chances are, even if you do lose weight or improve your skin etc. from eating less sugar, it’s all still applicable because the temptation to strive for perfection is ever prevalent these days.
Know I’m practicing this all myself still and f you’ve got any more tips to add, please put them in a comment so others can use them or just let me know what you thought of the article
Share the love
This is a great one to share with friends, young sisters or whoever else you think it might help.