Five Subtle Ways You Could Be Reinforcing Negative Body Thoughts

When you’re deep in the trenches of recovery, the constant bombardment of messages that tell everyone to "love their bodies" feel repetitive, impossible, and frankly, a little bit fake. Telling someone in recovery to “just love their body” is similar to telling a broken a hearted friend to “just get over him (or her) already.” 

Just like healing after a break up, developing body love and acceptance is layered and complex.

Although it may be difficult to imagine right now, one of the benefits of being recovered is that one day, you will gain a protective mindset that keeps you from beating yourself up with negative self-talk and eating disorder thoughts.

You’ll be so recovered that you’ll be immediately alerted when an old eating disorder thought appears, and your healthy self will step in to keep you safe, (how cool is that)?

Having been recovered for 7 years, my recovered perspective has also allowed me to develop Jedi-like powers to notice negative relationships with food & body in others.

Sometimes, these behaviors become automatic that they’re difficult to recognize. Because of this, people can reinforce their own negative body thoughts without realizing it. 

Here are 5 things you might be doing that reinforce your negative body thoughts that may be holding you back from fully recovering.

When you learn to stop these behaviors, personal body positivity will be that much more attainable.

1) Are you comparing yourself to others?

Comparisons have the strength to fuel eating disorders. You do not need to have the “best” body in the room or have high levels of body confidence to stop comparing yourself to others. 

You just need to consciously stop comparing yourself to others.

This will happen when you recognize that comparative thoughts are unhelpful, painful and literally always unfair because everybody is built differently.


2) Do you put yourself down?

What you think and what you verbalize reinforce your reality.

Even if you think putting yourself down a harmless joke, thoughts like this will reinforce your negative body image…even if you think you don’t mean it.

Every time you put yourself down, it’s not cute or endearing, it’s just straight up mean. This is because energy follows thought.

Every thought you have has the ability to transform your recovery- in a positive or a negative way. 

3) Do you make negative comments about other people's bodies?

Making negative comments about other people should be considered a social crime.

Humans, especially women, must boost each other up. If you see a woman wearing a bikini that the media would label as “unflattering”, for the love of God don’t point it out to her or gossip about it with someone else.

When you see someone and you’re tempted to say something negative, stop yourself and consciously pick a kinder thought.

When you focus on lifting others up, you’re indirectly lifting yourself up.

It’s magic, the way insecurities dissolve when you change the language you use.

4) Are you constantly taking selfies for social media?


At this point in my life, I feel confident in my skin.

However, I am aware that I am most likely to feel insecure when I take photos of myself. When taking photos, I tend to slip into a critical mindset.

If you’re the same way, don’t put yourself in that situation.

I don’t have Snapchat  anymore for this exact reason (remember the protective mindset I mentioned in the beginning of this post).

When I had Snapchat, I would go from living in the moment to "how do I look right now." 

Instead of striving for the perfect photo to validate your beauty, shift your focus back to the fun you're having with your friends and the moment in front of you.

 5) Do you participate is fat phobic groups or friendships?

If you surround yourself with people who are constantly dieting, you allow these people to reinforce your negative body image beliefs and personal fat phobias.

My first step towards recovery was when I removed myself from the fashion industry.

Leaving an industry with unrealistic expectations for my body allowed me to slowly change my concept of beauty. Perhaps you have a group of friends who fixate on their flaws, or encourage disordered eating behaviors.

You might even have an Instagram feed that reinforces these thoughts.

If you do, it might be time to take a break from these people/accounts and find a social environment that is more accepting.


About The Author: Meg McCabe

Meg McCabe is an Eating Disorder Recovery Coach located in Denver, CO. When working as a runway model during her teen years, she struggled with anorexia and bulimia. After leaving the fashion industry to dive deep into her own recovery, she's been fully healed for almost a decade. Meg coaches models, influencers and entertainers to heal their relationship with food and their body. Meg utilizes her platform to interview recovered survivors about their recovery journeys and raise awareness by having vulnerability and honest conversations about eating disorders. When Meg is not coaching, she's the Communities of HEALing Lead for the Boston Chapter of Project Heal, and a Health Educator at a mental health agency outside of Denver. In her free time Meg loves to dance, take care of her plants, and listen to podcasts. Visit her website.

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