Having healthy self-esteem comes with many advantages. It influences our motivation, mental well-being, and overall quality of life. However, it can become problematic if our self-esteem levels are too high or too low. It is important to understand what our unique level of self-esteem should be to strike a balance that is best for us. Low self-esteem can also contribute to and sustain disordered eating habits, leading to more anxiety. It becomes a vicious cycle that is very difficult to get out of. Here’s some insight into learning how to build our self-esteem.

What is Self esteem?

Self-esteem is how we perceive and value ourselves. It’s based on our opinions and beliefs about ourselves, which can feel difficult to change. We might also think of this as self-confidence. It encompasses beliefs about ourselves, and the evaluation we make of our own worth, competence and significance.

Healthy self-esteem allows us to be assertive in making decisions and to be able to recognise our strengths. It also helps us move past mistakes without unfairly blaming ourselves. Low self-esteem on the other hand, causes us to blame ourselves and avoid making decisions. It has us believing the worst about ourselves which can lead to other mental health issues like depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and eating disorders

Self-esteem and eating disorders

Eating disorders are serious mental and physical illnesses that involve complex and damaging relationships with food, eating, exercise, and body image. Eating disorders do not discriminate. They can affect anyone, regardless of age, sex, or race. Most eating disorders involve focusing too much on one’s weight, body shape, and food, leading to dangerous eating behaviours. These behaviours can impact the body’s ability to get the proper nutrition it needs.

Most people with an eating disorder are highly self-critical as a result of their perceived failure to achieve their shape, weight, and eating control goals. This type of self-criticism and poor opinion of themselves causes them to have low self-esteem. This then leads to more severe eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, etc. It is a negative cycle that continues until one seeks help and makes lifestyle changes.

How to build self-esteem

To improve our self-esteem we need to start off by identifying what are the negative beliefs and perceptions we have of ourselves. Get a piece of paper or a diary and note them down. Next, write down positive things about oneself that serve as evidence and challenge these beliefs. Aim to have at least 5 positive points on this list and add to it regularly. Keep this in a place where it is visible daily. This will help to remind us that we are doing fine.

Another very effective way of boosting our self-esteem levels is by implementing some lifestyle changes. This can mean a change in diet, eating habits, or incorporating exercise in our daily routine. Including nutritious foods in our diets can also help boost our mood, reduce stress, and anxiety, as well as help us feel more confident.

Sometimes we feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Speaking to a professional who can advise on what lifestyle changes will be best for a particular situation can be of great help.

Making the correct changes in our diets and lifestyle are some of the ways to help build our confidence and self-esteem. We, at En Bonne Santé Dieticians, give practical, client-centred advice and guidelines. We also strive to prevent lifestyle diseases through education and sustainable lifestyle changes. Get in touch with us to learn more.