5 Questions for Sanford Founder Rae Green on Body Acceptance

body acceptance blurred people walking

Body acceptance, body neutrality, body positivity – these phrases are often interchanged but mean different things. Body positivity means loving your body as it is; body neutrality focuses on what the body can do. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), “body acceptance includes body positivity, body neutrality, and body liberation—for all.” Today, we sit down with Sanford Behavioral Health founder Rae Green, JD, LPC, CAADC to talk about how body acceptance in the eating disorder facility informs the entire Sanford organization.


Why is body acceptance important? 

As the founder and president of Sanford Behavioral Health, our eating disorder programming has influenced the way the entire organization views body image and meals. We recognize that body dissatisfaction is a risk factor in the development of eating disorders, as well as other mental health conditions. Embracing body acceptance is challenging in a society where social media often promotes unattainable body ideals. We support and educate those struggling with eating disorders and encourage the creation of a positive culture at home, school, or in the workplace through our involvement in Body Acceptance Week and staff training.


What are some helpful ways for people to avoid body dissatisfaction?

Body acceptance and positivity begins at home and with parents.  Try not to criticize your own appearance, especially in front of your children. Value yourself more for your character. Learn the difference between weight and health and concentrate on health enhancing behaviors. At Sanford Comprehensive Treatment for Eating Disorders, we practice a Health at Every Size (HAES) approach, which honors body diversity and encourages movement for health and enjoyment, not to lose weight. During the summer (or any time), get outside, enjoy family, downplay appearance, and emphasize togetherness! 


How can body dissatisfaction potentially lead to bigger health issues? 

It’s important to be aware that body dissatisfaction can have serious consequences. Research suggests that body dissatisfaction often leads to unhealthy dieting behaviors, which can significantly increase the risk of developing eating disorders, especially in children and youth. In fact, the earlier these negative behaviors begin, the greater the likelihood of developing a severe eating disorder. Additionally, body dissatisfaction can also contribute to other (co-occurring) issues such as substance use, anxiety, and depression. It’s crucial to promote positive body image and healthy habits to support overall well-being.



When is it time to seek professional help? 

Our eating disorder clinicians and dietitians tell us to be mindful of a hyper-focus on body image and food. Changes in eating patterns, such as restricting certain categories of food, as well as obvious signs of compensatory behavior (such as vomiting and laxative abuse), are key factors to look out for. Additionally, drastic changes in exercise habits and weight can also be potential signs of an underlying eating disorder.
It is important to note that eating disorders are not always visibly apparent. Contrary to popular belief, individuals in larger bodies can also struggle with anorexia and other eating disorders. This underscores the significance of looking beyond stereotypes and recognizing that eating disorders can affect individuals across all body types and sizes. It is time to seek professional help if the behaviors are affecting health or quality of life. Eating disorders are serious illnesses that involve the biopsychosocial aspects of an individual.  


Any tips on how to broach the topic? 

As with any personal issue, approach a loved one with sympathy and kindness, and without judgement. Find a time when you are alone and the person is not overly tired, visibly stressed, or intoxicated.  And let them know how their condition has changed their behavior and affected you and your family/community. Offer suggestions and support. 


Do you have any other tips on how to work toward a positive outlook on body image? 

It helps to help. Look outside yourself and volunteer or take food or gifts to those in need. Go to the NEDA website and read about body image. You are worthy.  You are not defined by your weight, shape or size. Treat your body with respect. Challenge weight bias. And celebrate. Make sure you celebrate you.  

Thanks Rae!


You are not alone in your eating disorder. Help is waiting for you. At Sanford Behavioral Health, we offer residential and outpatient eating disorder treatment to support individuals in finding healing and hope for their future. Please contact us at 844-448-7700 for more information about our program and how we can support you on your path.


Sanford Behavioral Health is licensed and accredited as an addiction, eating disorder, and co-occurring mental health treatment facility, serving all of Michigan and beyond. Each of Sanford’s facilities in Greater Grand Rapids is carefully and diligently crafted to create a welcoming and comforting environment. Sanford is led by a psychiatrist-led team of medical, clinical, and support personnel providing medication-assisted, evidenced-based treatment to residential, outpatient, and telehealth patients. For more information, visit www.sanfordbehavioralhealth.com.