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What is Body Trust? And 3 Steps to Start Building It!

The term “body trust” is showing up more and more on social media, in resources, and on the internet, but more often than not, we hear that folx are still unclear as to what body trust even means. We want to help explain not only what it is, but share 3 steps to start building body trust today, tomorrow, or whenever you are ready!


Body Trust is More than a Buzzword

 Body Trust® is a trauma informed model / healing approach developed by Hilary Kinavey, MS, LPC and Dana Sturtevant, MS, RD (founders of The Center for Body Trust®). They define Body Trust® as “A radically different way to occupy and care for your body. It is a pathway to reclaim your body. Body Trust is paradigm shifting work that invites bravery and fierce body compassion.”

In action, body trust is a practice in which you counter conventional “wisdom” about food, body image, weight, and health in our culture, and instead look within your body for its own wisdom on what feels most aligned for you. It is a framework based on the idea that YOU are the expert of your own body. In simplest terms, body trust is turning down the volume on the outside noise so that you have an opportunity to listen to your body speaking.

The internet may have the new best recipe for flax seed and tons of ideas on gut health, but only you truly know your own body, values, and context. We were all born with a deep and inherent knowledge of ourselves and our needs, but as we grow and are socialized into society, we often lose this deep connection with self. Body trust is an intentional return to inner wisdom and awareness of self - the Body Trust® community often refers to healing work as “coming home to your body”.


What if I don't Trust my Body?

You might be thinking, “I don’t know how to trust my body and even if I could, it doesn’t feel wise or trustworthy”. And that may feel very true for you right now. Shifting this way of thinking is a continual process of unlearning what you have been taught about health, wellness, food, and your body, and instead getting curious about what your body is telling you or asking for.

In many ways, the trajectory of developing body trust is parallel to intuitive eating. On day one of the intuitive eating journey, you may not know what hunger cues are or what foods you actually like. Over time, you intentionally check in with your body, you really pay attention to the sensory experience of a food, and are able to recognize fullness and make a decision of whether or not to keep eating. Little pieces of information and seemingly small experiences, gather over time and coalesce into a very different way of being in relationship with food. The process of developing trust with your body is very similar, in that it takes lots of teeny tiny steps (often up and down) to make massive changes. And, if you have already started your intuitive eating journey, you may have also already started your body trust journey. 


Ok, so How can I start Developing Body Trust® Today?

Here are a few of our favorite tools and exercises that we use with clients who are working on building trusting relationships with their bodies. See if one of them resonates with you, or feels like it would be a helpful place to start.


  • Re-Discover what you really like. What do you really truly enjoy when it comes to food and movement? Do you really enjoy weight lifting or is it what all the instagram influencers are doing? Are you actually obsessed with Oreos, or are you drawn to them because they were off limits for decades? Here are two things you can try to start feeling reconnected to what you truly enjoy.

    • Take a few minutes and reflect on the ways you moved your body joyfully as a child - for example, climbing trees, jumping, running unabashed until you were out of breath, or a slow walk picking up little treasures you found. What activities do you think you could do today that connect you back to that feeling of joy? Check in with yourself as you try these activities and notice if your body is giving you a yes or a no. Is there anything that might help that form of movement feel more like a yes?
    • Next, get very close and personal with the sensory experience of food. Sit down with any food and take a bite. Jot down or mentally explore the 5 senses, asking yourself questions like - how does this feel on my tongue, what does it smell like, what is the texture, what’s an adjective to describe the taste. And finally - do you enjoy it? Why or why not? Over time, this intimate practice with food can help you re-discover all sorts of information about food that helps you get to know yourself better.


  • Lean into cravings. Trust that your body knows what and how much nutrients it needs, and will subtly guide your cravings and food decisions to keep you nourished over time. Remember that your body does not run on a 24 hour clock - and nutrition needs don’t reset automatically. Your body is very smart in managing vitamin, mineral, and micronutrient levels, and very efficient at utilizing the resources it has. Oftentimes, a craving or a thought of “that sounds good” is a nugget of body wisdom based on what you need in that moment, nutritionally and maybe even emotionally. Wait, so emotions are allowed to influence food - yep! Nourishing your body with pleasure and nutritious food is equally important.


  • Be kind to your body regardless of weight - it’s an important part of the Body Trust® process. Notice intentional or automatic urges to “check” your body, and experiment with opting out of these behaviors. Body checking only serves to remind you of the harmful (and untrue) message that your body isn’t good enough, needs fixing, and that this is your fault. Every time you step on the scale, scrutinize yourself in the mirror or a window, squeeze into uncomfortable shapewear, or compare yourself to others around you, you are quietly reminding yourself that your body cannot be trusted. In turn, your body struggles to trust that you will care for it. Breaking body checking habits or routines can be difficult and take time. Start by just bringing awareness to what you are doing, and get curious about how it makes you feel. You can also add in weight-neutral self care practices such as putting on lotion, drinking an extra glass of water, or going to bed 15 minutes early. Keep it small and simple, and acknowledge that you are doing something nice for yourself in these moments.



Want to work one-on-one with a Certified Body Trust Provider? Let us know here and get on Aleta’s waitlist!



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