How To Stop Body Checking

How To Stop Body Checking

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Table of Contents

Woman looking in mirror in floral shirt
Body Checking Helps Us Feel In Control

What Is Body Checking

Body checking is the fixation on examining ones body weight, shape or size. This is often done through use of scales, pinching body parts or comparing ones self to other bodies. Learn how to stop body checking by identifying when it’s happening and limiting opportunity. 

While many may body check on occasion, those with eating disorders or body dysmorphia may become obsessed with checking their bodies. 

Person Getting Out Of Bed and Checking Weight
Frequent Weighing Can Decrease Feelings of Self Worth

What Are Body Checking Behaviors

There are numerous body checking behaviors that are innocent when they exist on occasion, but become problematic in excess.  

Some body checking behaviors include: 

  • Fixations on checking oneself in reflective surfaces (e.g. a mirror)
  • Tugging on clothes to make them fit a certain way
  • Comparing ourselves to others in person or on social media
  •  Weighing
  • Repeatedly checking how clothing fits
  • Pinching skin
  • Continually seeking reassurance about weight/shape
  • Pinching others bodies/assessing for body fatness or muscle
  • Measuring body parts
  • Putting fingers/hands around body parts to measure 
black and white photo of woman covering eyes in mirror
Body Checking Can Lead To Increased Anxiety

How Is Body Checking Harmful

Initially, body checking may lead us to feel an element of control over our bodies.  For example we may feel: 

  • Powerful when a meal we eat doesn’t alter our the way our jeans feel or our forearm circumference. 
  • Calm when we compare ourselves to another body that is larger than ours. 
  • Relief when we step on the scale and the numbers have gone down or remained the same. 

The problem with all of this information, is it doesn’t give us a subjective experience.  It doesn’t tell us anything about our self worth. 

Body checking typically uses artificial measures (comparing ourselves to the outcomes on scale, other bodies, or a former self) to determine self worth. 

It can become a vicious cycle that at some point will produce negative thoughts and perpetuate restrictive eating behavior. 

person holding a phone with social media
Try A Social Media Purge

How Do I know if Someone Is Body Checking

If you suspect frequent body checking, pay special attention to someone’s behavior post meal.  

Someone may have a heightened need to check their body post meal via scale, mirrors, or measuring. 

Overall, look for signs of body checking such as:

  • Fixations on discussing the way others look
  • Frequent changes in clothing through the day
  • Not wanting to engage in social gatherings (especially ones where we can’t cover with as much clothing e.g. swimming)
  • Weighing many times a day
  • A person having off limit foods, or constantly focusing on food intake

 

 

old photographs
People May Use Old Photos As A Way To Body Check

Why Do We Body Check

We can’t physically feel an emotion.  Pain, grief, sadness and anger are not tangible. 

Body checking can step in and offer us a physical solution to check our emotions.  When we body check, it offers us a reinforcer, however negative that might be.

We are motivated to continue to body check as a measurement to determine wether we are okay. We do this by means that exists in a physical space (a scale, grabbing our flesh, or measurements)  outside of our emotions which cannot be measured. 

We will receive one of two messages as a result of our body check: 

  1. I am okay. In which case we may continue with our current eating/exercise behavior, allow ourselves more freedom, or restrict further to prevent changes. 
  2. I am not okay. In which case I can use measurements of control like restriction or overexercise to change how I look. 

Both of these outcomes will likely result in increased or simply repeated body checking in order to maintain control.

There is most likely no solution with body checking that leads to a positive outcome.

This is because we are taking a subjective experience and using objective means to measure our value.  

 

woman in black underwear measuring thighs
What Emotions Are Behind Your Body Check?

What Emotions Might Someone Who Body Checks Have

It is important to know if you or someone you love is body checking, it is NOT the body part that is the problem. 

All body checking is a representation of a painful emotion.

For example, someone cannot hold sadness or anger. But they can pick apart their stomach and pinch it. 

Ask yourself: 

  • Do I feel uncomfortable? 
  • Do I feel sad/angry
  • Am I feeling shameful
  • What is the role of pinching myself or getting on the scale? 

You might ask yourself what life would be like if you did not pinch yourself? 

Could you imagine. the rest of your life not pinching yourself/getting on. a scale etc? What would it be like? 

Person writing in journal with red pen
Try Alternative Ways To Work Through Emotions

What Emotions Might Someone Who Body Checks Have

It is important to know if you or someone you love is body checking, it is NOT the body part that is the problem. 

All body checking is a representation of a painful emotion.

For example, someone cannot hold sadness or anger. But they can pick apart their stomach and pinch it. 

Ask yourself: 

  • Do I feel uncomfortable? 
  • Do I feel sad/angry
  • Am I feeling shameful
  • What is the role of pinching myself or getting on the scale? 

You might ask yourself what life would be like if you did not pinch yourself? 

Could you imagine. the rest of your life not pinching yourself/getting on. a scale etc? What would it be like? 

person staging selfie against pink wall
Social Media Is A False Reality For Bodies

What Is Body Checking On Social Media

Social media can be a real mood killer when it comes to respecting our bodies and recognizing our worth. 

This is because our news feeds are constantly filled with: 

  • Filtered images 
  • Only the flattering angles of someone
  • Our brightest moments
  • A disproportionate representation of small bodies (those in larger bodies may not feel as comfortable showcasing as much on social media). 

It isn’t uncommon for us to become attached to comparing ourselves to the unnatural feeds on social media.  Social media is not a realistic representation of human bodies.  

Our constant usage of social media can lead to us feeling a decrease in self worth- especially surrounding our bodies. 

Two women and a man taking a selfie
Try Following Various Body Sizes On Social Media

How Can I do A social Media Purge To Feel Better About My Body

  • Unfollow anyone that makes you feel worse about your body
  • Make a practice of following individuals in bodies of your size or larger. Focus on their great attributes.
  • Unfollow anyone talking about diets, weight loss, or “lifestyle programs”
  • Unfollow those that post before/after photos in weight loss
Two hands reaching for each other on blue sky background
Find Support For Body Image Concerns

In What Ways Is Body Checking Impacting Your Life

I”ll be the first to admit- I was shocked to learn how much of my life I wasted checking my body up to social standards. 

Hopping on the scale or checking a reflection in the window may seem like innocent actions, but they can quickly deplete our energy. 

Diet culture has a way of ensuring us we are always inadequate, and we are the only ones who have ever felt this way. 

Checking our weight on the scale or tucking in our bellies in the mirror is likely something we don’t discuss openly.  Thus we may feel alone in our thoughts. 

In what ways has body checking robbed you of your time, energy, and happiness? 

Were there any ways you were surprised to learn you were body checking? 

Check out the free downloadable PDF below to work through how you are currently body checking, emotions surrounding body checking, and strategies for reducing it!

Shena Jaramillo. Registered Dietitian

Hi I'm Shena. I believe in choosing plants first, honoring your hunger, and that a little humor goes a long way.

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