What types of thoughts consume a person about their body shape if they are struggling with disordered eating or an unhealthy relationship with food? How does someone “determine” their body shape or size? Are you maybe body-checking without realizing it? In this podcast episode, Dr. Cristina Castagnini speaks about body checking with Cherie Miller.


Cherie is a Licensed Counselor Supervisor in the State of Texas. She is the founder and owner of Nourished Soul Center for Healing, a group practice of therapists and dietitians who help people make peace with food and their bodies. Cherie has 15 years years of experience as an eating disorder therapist, mentor, speaker, educator, and advocate. She is also a member of the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals and the Association for Size Diversity and Health.

Visit Nourished Soul and connect on Instagram.

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  • What is body checking?
  • Scary doesn’t always mean harmful
  • Be critical of the media you observe
  • Mindset over appearance

What is body checking?

[Body checking] is any kind of behavior that you engage in to seek reassurance about your body or something about your appearance … so we see it a lot with eating disorders and people with body dysmorphia. (Cherie Miller)
Some of the behaviors of body checking may include:
  • Constant or regular weighing
  • Constant measuring
  • Pinching or poking the body in different areas to measure to assess them
  • Trying on different clothes to see if the body shape has changed at all
  • Comparing old photos or videos of yourself to your current body shape
  • Comparing your body to others
  • Observing your body in the mirror or in windows constantly
People might try to justify body-checking behaviors as a way to hold themselves accountable when it comes to health, however, it is a very thin line. Becoming obsessed with any part of the body for any reason can often be the start of a dangerous game.
You might feel better in the moment if you’re “happy”, so to speak, with what you find but [in the] long-term is a very destructive cycle and it gets harder and harder to stop. (Cherie Miller)

Scary doesn’t always mean harmful

When Cherie was in the depths of her eating disorder and was struggling a lot with body checking, she went on a “self-imposed mirror fast” where she lived without a mirror big enough to see her body when she was in recovery. Of course, it was incredibly difficult and caused her a huge amount of anxiety – in the beginning. After some time, she was able to manage that anxiety of not being able to check her body with other healthier self-regulating techniques.
Over time, after a few days and a few weeks, it felt much easier and I wasn’t freaking out. Some days were tough but overall, it was so much easier and after months I got to a point where I didn’t think about it so much, and it was a relief. (Cherie Miller)
Often it is not the anxiety or stress that is the problem, but how you choose to respond to it and self-soothe yourself. Body-checking might feel like it helps, but it makes the problem worse. Finding a new way to regulate can be scary, but it’s necessary, and far more helpful for the future.
I made the decision to do that for myself and I suggested it to clients who are willing to go through that discomfort because, it’s drastic, but it can be really helpful because it’s like self-imposed accountability [because] you don’t have the option to stand there and [body check]. (Cherie Miller)

Be critical of the media you observe

Be mindful – and cautious – of who and what you follow on social media. Are these influencers teaching you to appreciate your body because of what it does for you, and how you can love it? Or are they more focused on looks and appearances than overall wellness?
I think we have to be critical consumers of both media and social media because there is a lot of harm [that can be done] when [you’re] not being discerning about the messages that we’re taking in, or even recognizing the messages that we’re taking in and how they affect us. (Cherie Miller)
Social media is incredibly powerful. It is subtle and precise, and even a few minutes of mindless scrolling can cause your self-confidence to plummet. Be careful with what you watch and be selective with the content that you allow to come into your mind. Ask yourself:
  • What do you think of these people?
  • What are they making me think or believe about myself or the world?
  • What are they promoting? Even subtly?

Mindset over appearance

It is always more important to have a good mindset than to be more concerned with the way that your body looks. Your body will change, even with a non-restrictive, balanced diet and a lifestyle with movement, your body will go through different shapes and sizes as it matures. Your best investment is to work on your mindset and care for your body within reason. Many people will change their eating and exercise habits because they think they look bad, and years later they may look back on photos of themselves from that time and see that they looked completely fine – in their opinion.
Body image really is [about] mindset and … you can’t always trust your perception anyways because they are not always fact, they’re not objective … there [are] a lot of things that influence what we see in the mirror … keeping that in mind is important. (Cherie Miller)



  I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!


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