Learning to respect and care for your body can be difficult as you navigate pregnancy and a potential gestational diabetes diagnosis. Your body may feel more foreign as it goes through rapid changes and you have to learn how to manage your blood sugars. I encourage you to take some time to read through the tips and strategies below that will help you learn how to practice more body respect– an essential part of healing your relationship with food and intuitive eating principle #8!
Body respect isn’t about loving your body, or even liking it. It’s about treating your body with kindness, dignity, and respect no matter its shape or size. It’s about meeting your basic needs NOW, regardless of a gestational diabetes diagnosis and the changes you may experience in pregnancy.
Before we start I encourage you to go back and read about intuitive eating principles #1-7. These principles all build upon each other, so in order for them to be most effective you will have to work through them in order! I also encourage you to go ahead and purchase The Body Is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor. This book is an amazing guide to radical self-love and is a great resource to have on your body respect journey!
Ending the war with your body
The first step towards respecting your body is to stop fighting it. In a culture that is constantly telling you your body is “wrong” or needs to be “fixed”, this can be a challenging and intimidating task.
A great place to start is to stop approaching food from a place of restriction. It is very common to use food as a way to control your body and blood sugars, when really this can have very serious mental and physical consequences. If you are struggling to make peace with food and stop living from a place of fear, I encourage you to read about Intuitive Eating Principle #3. Once you stop fighting against your body and trying to change it you will be better equipped to learn how to respect it.
Barriers to respecting your body
If you have a hard time understanding how you can respect your body given certain challenges and disabilities, I want you to know that you aren’t alone. Things like:
- Chronic illness
- Physical or mental disabilities
- Being transgendered
- Gestational diabetes
- And more
can make it feel impossible, or even silly to respect your body. How can you respect something that feels so difficult, or that you desperately wish you could change? Again, know that respecting your body doesn’t mean that you have to love these things, or even that you have to like them. You are allowed to say “okay, I don’t really like my body right now, but that doesn’t mean I can’t care for myself well”.
For example, if you are navigating a gestational diabetes diagnosis, it’s okay to feel frustrated or wish that you didn’t have GD. And you can still:
- Make your body comfortable– wear comfortable clothes
- Be responsive– meeting basic needs like eating, sleeping, moving your body, etc.
You may find that when you are pregnant it’s easier to say “of course I’m growing and need new clothes- my body is doing amazing things”! You feel less guilt and shame about your body changing, and people possibly noticing this change. I want you to try to carry that mentality into postpartum and beyond! Whether you are pregnant or not, your body is allowed to change without judgment and without shame. Learning to honor your body’s basic needs, even if there are certain barriers in place, is a great step towards body respect and practicing intuitive eating principle #8.
Stop the comparison
One of the easiest ways to disrespect your body? Comparing it to other bodies.
You may find yourself comparing your current body to one you had years ago, or even to other people. When we compare our body, or wish it was different, we become even more disconnected from ourselves, which makes honoring our needs more difficult. Remember that you deserve to be treated with basic dignity and respect, which may look different for everyone but will likely include things like:
- Feeding yourself without restriction or judgment
- Not comparing your body to others or putting pressure on yourself to change your body
- Getting rid of scales and other items that may trigger harmful behaviors or thoughts
- Speaking more kindly to yourself (stop the body bashing)
If you struggle to speak kindly to yourself or find yourself being very self-critical I encourage you to practice mindset reframes. A few examples to get you started:
- “My body is broken” to “This is where I am right now. What does my body need?”
- “I failed” to “This is frustrating but it is not my fault.”
- “I look terrible” to “My worth is found inside. I do not need to adhere to unrealistic beauty standards.”
Practicing basic self-care
We touched on this briefly, but the best way to show your body respect especially when you don’t like or love your body is to practice basic self care. This includes things like:
- Wearing comfortable clothes
- Brushing your teeth
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating nutritious foods
- Taking breaks
- Getting rid of clothes that don’t fit
- Going to the doctor
You may find yourself avoiding some of these practices if you’re struggling with body respect, especially visiting the doctor. If you find yourself avoiding healthcare because of weight stigma or fear, I encourage you to bring a friend, or add a weight-inclusive member to your care team. Having a HAES (Health at Every Size) aligned dietitian or counselor to chat with can help you feel more empowered heading into these appointments.
I encourage you to take a look at your current health practices. Are there gaps you may need to fill? Certain practices you’ve been avoiding? My free resource Your Health Wheel can be a great place to start if you are looking to add in health supporting behaviors and practice more body respect. This 14-page resource helps you take inventory of your current health and wellbeing.
Then it guides you in designing an individualized plan forward. In any component of health and wellness that you’d like to improve, this resource will illuminate small shifts you can make in each area that will bring you to higher satisfaction and overall health. Click below to download your FREE copy.
Ultimately, remember that your body deserves respect in all seasons- regardless of its shape, size, or ability. If you are having trouble believing this or could use some support, especially on your pregnancy journey, I would love to help you learn more about how this intuitive eating principle and more can help. Click here to book a free discovery call with me to learn how I support clients from a weight-inclusive and HAES perspective so they can have a completely empowered pregnancy experience!