Body positivity and mindful eating discussed at Hereford FHT Local Support Group meeting

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Twenty people attended a fantastic talk by Lisa Beasley on body image and mindful eating, writes Hereford FHT Local Support Group coordinator Carina Jones.

Lisa’s Bristol-based company, My Body Positive, runs talks and workshops to help women step out of the diet culture and embrace a person-centred, empowering model of food awareness. By placing physical health and self-esteem rather than weight loss at the heart of the process, she helps to build a sustainable and guilt-free relationship with the food women eat and helps them to understand their personal cycles with food behaviour.

Clearly, a 90-minute talk didn’t give us all the answers, but it certainly raised a lot of questions; everyone had such a lot to think about as we unpicked the messages that we give and receive constantly about food, weight and body image.

When the question of weight, health or body image arises in our treatments it can be difficult to know how to respond. I am often taken aback by the body shaming language that clients use about their own bodies and wish I could do more to reframe the conversation. We need to shift the focus from weight to health and replace shame with support. There is much work needed to counteract the insidious and persistent fat-fearing and fat-shaming language that exists not just in the media but in the medical profession too.

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Of course, it would be wrong to suggest that some diseases and conditions are not caused or worsened by poor lifestyle choices and excessive weight. However, there are more pertinent truths that this kind of one-dimensional coverage neglects that weight alone is a poor indicator of overall health, that fat-shaming and fat-fearing does a lot of damage and does not inspire positive lifestyle choices, and that shame does not help people lose weight or become healthier.

Treating people as individuals, compassionately listening and helping to build self-esteem and self-worth provides a much better foundation from which to empower people to make sustainable and lifelong positive lifestyle decisions. From here it is left for us to consider how we can build into our practice and conversations with clients, messages that contribute to a more positive dialogue about larger bodies.

FHT members can read more articles about body image, by logging in to fht.org.uk/members-area and typing ‘body image’ in the search bar on the top left-hand side.

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We hope you enjoyed this article, which was first published in the Winter 2019 issue of International Therapist!

International Therapist is the FHT’s membership magazine. Published on a quarterly basis, it offers a broad range of articles – from aromatherapy and electrolysis, to sports injuries and regulation updates. The magazine is a membership benefit and is not available off-the-shelf or by subscription.

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