What is body image?
Body image is the perception that a person has of their physical self, but more importantly the thoughts and feelings the person experiences as a result of that perception. It is important to understand that these feelings can be positive, negative or a combination of both and are influenced by individual and environmental factors.
How can you improve your body image?
People with negative body image can become fixated on trying to change their actual body shape. This can lead to people engaging in unhealthy practices with food and exercise with the hope that the change in body shape will alleviate negative feelings.
These practices do not usually achieve the desired outcome (physically or emotionally) and can result in more intense negative feelings of disappointment, shame and guilt, as well as place a person at greater risk of developing an eating disorder.
While changing your actual appearance may be difficult and complicated, changing your body image is an achievable goal. We have the power to change the way we see, feel and think about our bodies. Here are some tips to get started:
Focus on your positive qualities, skills and talents - this can help you learn to accept and appreciate your whole self. A person is much more than just a physical being
Say positive things to yourself every day - when you say something often enough you start to believe it
Avoid self talk that is berating or negative
Focus on what your body can do and has done - the body is amazing; appreciating and respecting all the things it can do will help you to feel more positively about it
Set positive, health related focused goals rather than weight loss related ones - engaging in practices with food and exercise that promote health over weight loss/management is more positive for your overall wellbeing. Remember many people who are normal or underweight are unfit and many physically fit people (think about rugby players) are higher than average in body weight
Avoid making body comparisons to others - everyone is unique and differences are what makes a person special. Admiring the beauty in others can be positive for your own body confidence but it is important that you appreciate the beauty and accept yourself as a whole in order to feel more comfortable in your skin
Make a conscious decision about what to read and look at - remember that the majority of images presented in the media are unrealistic and represent a minority of the population. Many of the images in magazines have been digitally altered and do not represent what real people look like.
For more information: National Eating Disorders Collaboration http://www.nedc.com.au/files/logos/0638_NEDC_FS_BI_v4.pdf
Body Image Tips for Parents http://thebutterflyfoundation.org.au/wpcontent/uploads/2012/12/Body-Image-Tips-for-Parents.pdf
Body Image Tips for boys
Body Image Tips for Girls
Encouraging your teenager to eat healthy foods
Don't forbid ‘fatty' foods entirely or call these foods 'bad' – the idea that things are 'bad' or forbidden can make them more desirable. Make it clear that these foods are okay sometimes, but not every day.
Provide a variety of healthy foods at home. Include plenty of breads, rice, noodles, pasta and other cereal foods, dried peas and beans, vegetables, fruit and moderate amounts of low fat dairy foods, lean meat, poultry (with the skin removed) and fish.
Avoid foods with 'hidden' fat. As well as foods that are obviously fatty (eg meat with visible fat or foods fried in fat), other foods such as pastries, cakes and sweet biscuits are also high in fat.
Encourage snacking on healthy, high fibre foods like bread, fruit bread or fruit by having them within easy reach on the table or kitchen bench. Children and young people tend to eat what they can see. If there's a packet of sweet biscuits or chips on the kitchen bench they'll eat them – but if there's a bunch of grapes or some bananas there, they'll eat those instead.
Try and ensure your teenager eats breakfast. Leaving for school on an empty stomach means they are more likely to snack on chips or sweets later. It's better to start the day with breakfast cereal, fruit and milk, bread with cheese, yogurt and fruit, or leftovers from dinner, for instance. No time for breakfast? Give them something to eat on the way, such as an "Up and Go".
Breakfast = Breaking the Fast
We've all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but just how important is it?
Research has shown that eating breakfast improves memory and attention span. Teenagers who eat breakfast perform better at school. If they don't eat breakfast, they may be missing out on essential minerals such as iron and calcium.
Here are some great breakfast ideas:
- Peanut butter on raisin toast
- Congee (asian rice porridge)
- Spaghetti/baked beans on toast
- Boiled egg
- Savoury or sweet home cooked muffins
- Cheese/cucumber/tomato in pita bread
- Canned fruit and yoghurt
- Toasted cheese and tomato sandwich
- Banana smoothie
- Vegemite toast and orange wedges
- Fruit and custard
- Cereal and yoghurt
- Cereal and milk
- Fruit platter
Try these healthy snacks for a change:
- corn thins
- dried fruit
- cheese sticks
- fruit bread
- rice crackers
- two fruits
- canned fruit
- carton of milk
The best drink is water. Tap water contains fluoride to help protect teeth. Milk, both plain and flavoured are also good choices because milk is good for growing bones. 100% fruit juice should be limited as too much juice can damage teeth. It is better to dilute juice with water or offer fresh fruit, which will also provide fibre.
It is best to avoid fruit drinks, soft drinks, cordial and sports drinks. These all contain added sugar and acids which can cause tooth decay.