What is Body Checking and How Do I Stop?

how to stop body checking

Self-acceptance is a journey that can take time, patience, and a good bit of work. Oftentimes, learning to accept yourself is intertwined with body image. In a society that tends to emphasize unrealistic beauty standards, having a negative or complicated body image is unfortunately commonplace for many people. Dissatisfaction with how you look could result in various behaviors, one of which may be body checking.

In this article, we’ll break down what body checking is and provide guidance on how to stop doing it.

What is Body Checking?

Body checking is a type of behavior that involves repeatedly examining, measuring, or touching certain body parts to “check” the size or feeling. Having a negative body image and participating in body checking overlap in many ways.

Some of the most common forms of body checking include:

  • Checking your weight
  • Pulling or feeling parts of your body
  • Measuring parts of your body
  • Comparing past photos of yourself to current ones
  • Weighing yourself
  • Closely examining yourself in the mirror
  • Pinching or holding your skin
  • Seeking reassurance from others: “Do I look different to you?” “Has my body changed?”

Body checking tends to stem from having a negative body image. Over time, these behaviors may become compulsive and instinctual. For so many people, it’s almost second nature to tug at their clothes or adjust their appearance every time they catch a glimpse of their reflection. This unfortunate reality is the result of the appearance-focused world in which we live, one that constantly tells us we need to “fix” something about ourselves. Here at The Wellful, we’re here to tell you there’s nothing to fix; you’re perfect exactly as you are.

Body Checking and Body Image Influences

If you’re looking for ways to stop body checking, you’ve come to the right place. As a person-centered registered dietitian specializing in eating disorders, I understand how hard it can be to change certain learned behaviors. That’s why I’m going to walk with you throughout the whole process. Repairing your body image may not happen overnight, but there are strategies we can put in place to help you move in the right direction.

Before you implement the actionable steps to stop body checking, you need to understand what influences your body image. There are so many things that could fall into this list. Write it out for yourself and make it personal. Some of the most common things that influence body image (and, as a byproduct, body checking) include:

  • How your clothes fit
  • The images you see on social media
  • Traveling/being in a new place/environment
  • Seeing yourself in the mirror
  • Seeing a photo of yourself
  • Taking photos of yourself or others
  • Stepping on the scale
  • Going clothes shopping
  • Hearing someone talk about their diet
  • Being around a certain person or being in a certain environment
  • …and so many others

Now that you know it’s happening, the next step is to learn how to interrupt the pattern.

How to Stop Body Checking

Stopping body checking probably won’t happen overnight, but there are steps you can take to move yourself in the right direction.

  1. Become Aware: to stop body checking, you have to become aware that you’re doing it in the first place. This may include calling yourself out on it or allowing others to hold you accountable if they notice it. Sometimes, this could even require having a little chat in your head. “I’m noticing that I’m having a lot of critical thoughts about my body today,” or “I see that I’m trying to find something ‘wrong’ with my body right now.”
  2. Pause. Identifying that you’re having these thoughts will interrupt the pattern, even if just for a few seconds. Once you have that pause, you can start to question it. This is also a good opportunity to catch yourself before you start body checking. Use this as a chance to ask yourself what you need right now. Is it to…
  • Change into comfortable clothes?
  • Step away from the mirror?
  • Put away (throw away) the scale?
  • Pause social media?
  • Call a friend?
  • Reach out to your registered dietitian?
  1. Set Limits: If completely stopping body checking doesn’t seem feasible, start by reducing its frequency. For example, if mirrors are triggering, consider limiting your morning outfit check to 30 seconds, turning your mirror around, moving it to an area that you aren’t always walking by or covering them up with pieces of art at nighttime.
  2. Replace Body Checking with Mindful Check-Ins: Every time you have the urge to body check, take it as an opportunity to check in with your mental space: how’s it doing? Where’s your head at? How are you feeling? Try to identify the feeling with specific words and emotions. For example, instead of instinctually grabbing at your skin, acknowledge that you may be feeling uncomfortable and sit with that. See what that’s like and observe how long it takes for that feeling to subside.
  3. Ask for help: Body checking is often a symptom of an eating disorder and/or body dysmorphia. These conditions usually require the assistance of qualified professionals like therapists and/or registered dietitians like myself. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Doing so isn’t a sign of weakness; in fact, it’s really a sign of strength. It takes guts to put yourself first, but you deserve it!

Find Recovery with The Wellful 

The Wellful provides personalized nutrition support to help you rebuild a healthy relationship with food and your body, free from restriction or obsession. 

Our community promotes Health at Every Size (HAES®) and firmly believes that true wellness comes from being at peace with both your body and your mind. We take a person-centered approach to helping people from all walks of life move through the world with a little more ease and a little less stress. If body checking has become a problematic aspect of your life, know that you’re not alone. We’re here to help. By working with our registered dietitian, Brenna, you’ll develop the tools you need to stop body checking and start better living. It’s not about perfection; it’s about a commitment to having compassion for yourself.

Reclaim the mental space that was once occupied by food anxiety and body image struggles. Instead, focus on honoring your whole self each day. You are enough. The journey may not be easy, but you are not alone. Let The Wellful walk beside you, providing education and empowerment along the way. 

Contact us today at 925-725-2761 to take the first step toward balance and self-care. Discover how good it feels to make choices motivated by self-love rather than self-critique. This is your time to break free from disordered eating patterns and create sustainable wellness. To get started, schedule a free 15-minute consultation with me, Brenna, RD today.


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