How to help your partner love their body (even when they don't).
I met my husband at my heaviest weight. And he loved me (and my body), even when I didn't. He told me that I was worthy just as I was, without needing to lose weight.
As anyone with body insecurities would know, this meant so much to me. My husband and I have been together for six years and yesterday was our second wedding anniversary. My husband played a big role in helping me love my body. And I'll always be so grateful to him.
Nowadays, I truly love my body. But that wasn’t always the case. I used to hate my body. I never felt good enough. I would compare my body constantly.
Hating my body was seriously hard work. It made me obsessed with food, turned me into an emotional eater and I was so unhappy. At one point (aka my breaking point) I made a decision that I wasn’t going to sacrifice my mental health for the perfect body anymore.
In other words, I decided to love my body (because it's a decision)!
These days I love my strong, capable body. I’m really healthy, and this is what my body looks like naturally... I think we need to redefine what a healthy body looks like because it’s not always abs and lean bodies like you see in the magazines.
Loving your body in a society that tells you NOT to love your body is a radical act of self-love.
It's ok for my tummy to be soft and for my thighs to touch. It doesn't make me unhealthy. I can be strong and soft at the same time.
I don't need abs to be healthy. I have energy. I am happy. I am vibrant. That says a lot more about my health than my weight or body shape.
Body love is not about losing weight until you finally love your body. Body love is deciding that your perfectly imperfect body is worthy of love just as you are.
Try to lose weight to love your body? Well, you’ll find that your body never feels good enough, no matter how much weight you lose.
You can decide that you want to love your body, too. Like I did... it takes time and the right support. Luckily, I have a husband who helped me learn to love my body.
In light of this, I want to share some of the things that he did for me, and really helped me learn to love my body.
Here are some strategies that your partners can do to help support you learn to love your body more.
(NOTE: I'm not saying that women need a man to feel beautiful but knowing that the person you're most intimate with accepts and love you just as you are can help shift the way you feel about yourself).
P.s. You might want to share this article with your partner (or mum, dad, a sibling or friend).
Dear husband or boyfriend (or partner),
So you've fallen for a woman who isn't 100% in love with her body (yet).
It's not surprising considering every day she faces an enormous amount of pressure to have the perfect body.
The media portrays a painfully narrow ideal of beauty and this can make it really hard for her to feel beautiful and worthy.
It's tough on you, too. You don't know how to respond when she tells you she feels fat. When you tell her she is beautiful, sometimes, it feels like she's not listening.
The good news is that you can help her learn how to love herself. Here's a few strategies.
Speak up when something is not ok
Does her mother feel the need to comment on her weight? Is there a friend who makes her feel insecure? Does she spend hours on social media only to get stuck in body shame later?
As her closest (and probably favourite) person, you might notice the patterns before she does. It's ok to speak up. She might not be aware. You might try something like: "I've noticed that when ____ happens, you often feel worse about yourself and your body? Have you noticed this too?"
Resist the urge to judge other people's bodies
If you comment that her friend has lost weight or the TV presenter has 'let herself go', she will probably notice... By speaking about other peoples weight (either loss OR gain), you're reinforcing to her what society already tells her: "Your worth is based on your weight and appearance".
You can't change society alone but you can change how you talk about others. It's so tempting but try your hardest to resist the urge to judge other bodies including friends, family, celebrities or colleagues. Hold the comment inside. This simple strategy will also help you learn to love yourself more.
Try not to get angry with her...
When you are ready to leave but she is running late because she is struggling to get dressed and complains that 'I have nothing to wear', what she actually means is that she has nothing to wear that makes her feel good or beautiful enough.
She is hurting.
She's not trying to make you late. She feels unworthy. It has nothing to do with how she looks like and everything to do with how she THINKS she looks. She probably feels ashamed and getting angry with her doesn't help.
You'll need lots of patience (but she is worth it)
She has been dieting and hating her body for years. This isn't going to get 'fixed' overnight because you told her she is beautiful once or twice.
The best thing you can do is be patient with her. Appreciate how hard it is to love your body in a society that tells you not to. The process of loving your body takes time and constant work. Be patient with her. Be kind and gentle.
Focus on health (not weight)
So, your partner is complaining because she feels guilty for overeating and missing the gym again this week. It's tempting to say "don't worry, you'll lose the weight". Instead, the best thing you can do is bring the conversation back to how eating healthily and exercise makes her feel, not look.
Her: "I ate so much and haven't exercised this week. I feel gross and fat. I have to do better tomorrow".
You: "You don't need to feel guilty. Not every week will go to plan. But I know you feel so much happier and more energetic when you eat healthily and exercise. Why don't we cook together/go for a walk tomorrow"?
You might also like: What to do when you eat healthily but can't lose weight.
Aim for progress, not perfection
Progress comes like waves. Over time, those waves get larger and more frequent. The downs don't dip as low. As her relationship with herself changes, you may notice when she feels down about her body, she doesn't stay there quite as long and the words that she uses to describe herself aren't quite as harsh.
She will still have many moments of doubt but you can tell she is progressing when she is able to remind herself of her worth faster and with more ease. The waves will eventually become calm water.
Offer little reminders...
If your partner is feeling down, no amount of 'no you're not fat! You're beautiful' can turn the ship around. But I don't think it does any harm either. I think it's good to remind her that she is beautiful as it's easy for a girl to forget. Even if it seems like she doesn't take it on board, she does absorb those words.
Some body positive advocates will disagree with me here instead, recommending that you compliment her on things other than her appearance. I think that's also a great idea, and please do compliment her on her other assets. But...
I think reminding her that she is beautiful reinforces that she doesn't need to be thin to be beautiful.
Lastly, here are some positive words to help remind your woman that she is wonderful, beautiful and worthy just as she is...
- "Losing weight is not your life's purpose"
- "You are so much more than your weight"
- "Accepting your body in a society that tells you not to is hard. You're doing so great".
- "I love you exactly as you, whatever you weigh".
- "You are enough just as you are".
- "You do not need to lose weight to be beautiful".
Found this useful? You might want to share this article with your partner, mum, a sibling or friend.
Leave me a comment! I'd love to get to know you. Please let me know what you thought about this post by leaving me a comment at the very bottom of the page.
About the author (that's me)!
Hey there! I'm Lyndi Cohen. I'm a food-loving Australian dietitian known as The Nude Nutritionist. I used to struggle with my weight and body image big-time. But when I stopped dieting and hating my body, my life changed. So that's why I like to strip nutrition back to basics and keep it real. My healthy recipes are tasty and easy and I share heaps more healthy eating tips on my blog. Follow me on Instagram for updates.
MORE HEALTHY INSPIRATION VIA MY BLOG:
Do you feel bloated after finishing a meal? Here’s how to know if it’s actually a health issue for you, and what to do if it is.
While I won’t pretend to know exactly what’s in store for this year, these are the things I’m most excited about in 2019 — in my career, health and life.
Diet new year’s resolutions don’t work, and they’re distracting you from setting goals that actually matter. Here are some inspiring new year’s resolutions you can set instead.
With free-flowing food, swimsuits and tonnes of photos being taken, the holidays can be a hard time to be confident and body positive. Here’s some things to keep in mind to help banish food guilt and feel good about yourself over the holidays.
Feeling guilty for not reaching your 2018 health goals or new years resolutions? If you didn’t smash all your 2018 health goals, have a read of this.
Confused by what foods are actually healthy for you? Here are 5 foods that normally get a bad rep for being unhealthy. Luckily, they’re actually healthy for you.
Looking for a new swimsuit that makes you feel good? Here are some of the best one-piece and bikini swimsuit brands in 2018.
Follow these 3 steps to boost your body image, without deleting Instagram. Transform social media from comparison trap to a confidence booster.
Some Instagram accounts can help you love your body. Here’s the BEST 12 body positive Instagram accounts that can boost body positivity.
There’s a simple reason why you don’t feel full after smoothies + how one small tweak can make the difference.
Here are 6 things you can do to stop feeling fat.
There are few very important things to keep in mind if you want to teach your children how to have a healthy relationship with food.
How many years have you wasted hating your body and wishing you looked like someone else? If you feel unhappy with your body and hate your weight, it’s time for a change.
I'm not sure why it's called the 'health' food aisle...
I used to hate my body (I mean like really hate my body). But now I love my body, something I never thought was possible! So, how do you go from hating your body to loving your body? Here’s 15 ways how I learned to love my body and be body confident.
I travel as much as I can, hopping on a plane about once a month. Here’s how I stay healthy when I travel.
Looking for the best restaurants and places to eat in Prague? I've got you sorted. Here is my list of the best places to eat in Prague in 2018.
Eat healthily, save money and reduce food waste.
Loving your body in a society that tells you not to is a radical act of self-love. I learned that having a supportive partner can help you learn to love your body.
You spent all week eating well but the scales don't reflect it. If you eat healthily and still can't lose weight, read this.
Face lotions and serums have a role to play, but what you put in your mouth really does show on the outside.
It's time to do good by your health. Stop asking for salads with dressing on the side.
With hundreds of yoghurts on display in the cold section of supermarkets, choosing a healthy yoghurt can be a daunting task. Here is a guide to help you choose a healthy yoghurt.
Which is the best meal delivery service in Australia? Read my review of the best meal delivery services in Australia right now - and find out which meal delivery service I'd choose.
Coconut oil is very trendy at the moment but is it really that good for you? Find out which oil I use every day and what I really think about coconut oil (and the superfood claims).
Want to eat healthier, for less? You don't have to eat beans and rice or give up your avocado addiction to eat healthy on the cheap. Here are some truly non-sucky ways to eat well, for less.
If you want to become a nutritionist or a dietitian, this is my honest advice on starting a career in nutrition. Find out how I got my nutrition career started, what I recommend for study and how much nutritionists and dietitians earn. Plus more!
Sick of falling off the bandwagon? These simple mindeset shifts will help you find balance and let go of an 'all-or-nothing' mentality.
They're calling it the Great Avocado Depression. But when will the insanity end?
If you're sick of always 'falling off the bandwagon, and want better willpower, this is a must read. This is by far the most common reason for poor willpower.
HEALTHY RECIPES YOU MIGHT LOVE:
This quick and easy healthy dinner recipe is going to spice up your midweek meals. With a few basic, everyday ingredients and one-pan - you’ll pull together a delicious and healthy dinner the whole family will enjoy.
Here’s a quick and easy midweek dinner option. I’ve snuck vegetables into these delicious patties so they’re a fabulous for lowering your grocery bill and boosting your health by eating less meat.
This soup is seriously delicious and simple recipe. Perfect for meal prep or mid-week dinners.
This is comfort food made healthy! It's rich, it's creamy and also loaded with six sneaky serves of vegetables - making it ideal for kids and adults alike.
Warning: You're going to want to eat the entire tray of these crispy sweet potato curly fries. Good thing they’re healthy and easy to make!
Mornings just got a whole lot more cosy and tasty with this 5-minute breakfast. Perfect breakfast for cold mornings.
Finally! A delicious smoothie recipe that easy to make AND keeps me full for hours. I’ve been waiting for you a long time…
No time to cook? Make dinner great again with this 20 minute super-simple recipe. Faster and more convenient than takeaway. But the best bit? Minimal cleaning up.
Want a simple, yet healthier lasagne without the fuss? This healthy lasagne is the best comfort food. It’ll help you eat healthily on a budget and it’s vegetarian, so it’s perfect for meat-free Monday.
My mum makes the BEST Thai Corn Soup. I turned it into a healthy version that doesn’t compromise on flavour. This healthy recipe is great for meal prep, if you’re on a budget or love meat-free Mondays.
A surprisingly quick and easy breakfast idea for a seriously healthy start to your day.
This super simple one tray salmon bake is a game-changer for mid-week meals.
This one-tray balsamic chicken is a perfectly balanced meal to make for a mid-week dinner (or meal prep)!
This Loaded Greek Salad is one of my favourite recipes. It uses everyday ingredients to create something really special... in a matter of minutes.
One pot and just a few key ingredients, this easy (and cheap!) recipe will create a delicious meal. Make it for Meat-free Monday and you'll have plenty of leftovers to enjoy throughout the week.
A delicious 4-ingredient treat. I pretty much just took the yummiest ingredients and blitzed them up into a recipe. How could it not be good?
This is an easy, classic and oh-so-delicious salad recipe to add to your repertoire. It's perfect for meal prep...!
With only four ingredients, this simple salad is perfect for mid-week meals (or entertaining).
The perfect Summer BBQ salad to impress friends and family. Add this healthy recipe to your repertoire when you're next entertaining.
You're busy? Me too! So here is an easy and healthy mid-week Eggplant Parmigiana. You pretty much throw all the ingredients into a tray so it's kinda hard to mess up. Enjoy!
You'll want oodles of these zoodles with this delicious creamy avocado dressing. Topped with flakey almonds, bright cherry tomatoes and crumbled feta cheese, I know you're going to love this healthy recipe.
When you make your own muesli or granola, it's often a lot healthier because you know exactly what goes into it. Try my homemade toasted muesli (granola) recipe for a healthier breakfast cereal.
This soup is so filling and healthy. I'll meal prep this recipe ahead of a busy week. It's a great way to get through veggies in the fridge and feed the family a really nourishing meal for less.
Tomatoes are at their best during Spring and Summer and this simple 4-ingredient Tomato and Feta Salad is a winner, especially for BBQ season. Swap the boring same-same salad for this simply wonderful dish.
This quick and easy overnight oats is wonderful for busy mornings. You can meal prep them on the weekend ahead of a busy week.
I'm so excited about this recipe. You should know up front that I can’t bake very well. I’m quite impatient, particularly when chocolate is involved. But even I could make this delicious Chocolate Banana Bread Recipe easily. It's so good!!!
Chocolate and Hazelnuts... two flavours that are meant for each other! This healthier version of a choc-hazelnut spread has only 4 ingredients, is super easy to make and did I mention it tastes amazing too?
Introducing Cauliflower Steaks - A healthier alternative to the BBQ grill. You've probably eaten cauliflower as rice, mashed, boiled and baked - but have you ever tried grilling it on the BBQ?
This is my favourite baked sweet potato recipe. It's a classic. I keep coming back to it because it's really that good. The sweet potatoes caramelises. It's the perfect recipe for batch cooking or meal prep.
With only 2-ingredients, this healthy recipe will be ready in less than 3 minutes. I have a major sweet tooth and this healthy strawberry sorbet (with its' sweet/sour taste) really hits the spot.