Think about how many times you changed clothes before choosing an outfit this morning. Did you step on the scale? Did you pick your breakfast based on how you felt about your appearance? These questions might hit home if you’ve been fixated on your body lately.

It’s hard to not think about our body when we’re faced with swimsuit ads, diet commercials, and “What I Eat in A Day” posts everywhere we look. We live in a culture gripped by appearance, one that praises thin bodies and touts unrealistic beauty standards. Our culture teaches us that we need to change, and as a result, we spend a lot of our time obsessing over body image. However, no two bodies are meant to be exactly alike. If we all ate and moved in the exact same way, we would still be different shapes and sizes. Why do we fear instead of celebrate body diversity?

It’s important to remember that health isn’t always reflected by appearance. And overall health is so much more important than simply a number on the scale. We each have the ability to decide how we want to feel about our body. 

Here are four tips to help you stop obsessing over body image and start practicing body respect:

1. Get rid of your scale. As a licensed dietician with a master’s degree in clinical nutrition, I’m giving you permission to let go of it because you don’t need it. In fact, it could be keeping you in a perpetual cycle of shame—especially if seeing certain numbers makes or breaks your day. If the scale controls how you feel about your body, it’s time to let it go (for your mental health!).

2. Clean out your closet. You deserve to look into it and see items that fit your body right now. Regardless of how cute it is or how much it cost, if a piece of clothing in your closet doesn’t fit you as you are now, box it up, bag it up, and put it somewhere else.

3. Take a hard look in your mirror. Your thoughts become your beliefs, and your beliefs become your feelings. Thinking that you need to change your body comes from the belief that changing your body will bring happiness. This leads to shame and an overwhelming sense of defeat. 

What if you focused on all the things your body can do? The belief then becomes “my body is capable.” If practicing positive thoughts in the mirror feels like a lot, then try gratitude instead. Saying, “I’m grateful for my arms that allow me to hug my kids,” would be a great example. You can even throw some sticky notes on your mirror with positive messages.

4. Check your words. Words matter, so choose them wisely! When you talk about yourself in a negative way, whether to yourself or others, that validates negative self-perception. Defaulting to shaming yourself and self-deprecating comments are unhealthy habits. Even gravitating to conversations with friends about diet and eating can be harmful. Instead, redirect conversations to ones that build you up and leave you feeling good. 

Your body deserves your respect. Skip the body bashing and start practicing gentleness and grace. You can treat your body with kindness and love even if you don’t like it or want to make changes. Start with these tips and see how your relationship with your body changes. 

If you need personalized guidance on improving your relationship with your body, reach out to 901 Nutrition. We provide 1:1 coaching to help you create a healthy relationship with food and a loving relationship with your body. 

Erin Dragutsky is the co-founder of 901 Nutrition, LLC and a licensed, registered dietitian in Memphis. Erin specializes in helping clients with eating disorders and disordered eating habits. She is passionate about helping clients ditch their diets for good, find food freedom, and develop a positive relationship with food., 901.800.9526