Create a positive shopping experience

Shopping can often be a bumpy ride, especially for those who are working on healing their relationship with food and their body.

Size discrepancies, the lack of size diversity in models/marketing, and the sneaky subconscious messages from society can throw you off balance and create anxiety and stress…

PLUS, many have used clothing as a way to body check OR “motivate’ weight loss attempts.

Can you relate?

Well, today we are going to guide you through the shopping experience (from planning to post-shopping self-care), helping you find comfort and potentially even joy along the way.

PS: If you prefer to listen instead of reading, check out the podcast episode about shopping (ep. 144)

Before Shopping: Prepping for Success

Before embarking on your shopping adventure, it’s crucial to set yourself up for success. Here are a few tips to consider:

1. Tune into your body

No matter if you are going to the store or trying clothes you have ordered online, taking a moment to check in with yourself and your body before the experience is really important.

If you are starting your healing journey or maybe in the midst of your eating disorder, shopping can be a very overwhelming experience, therefore we want to ensure we are in a good (or neutral) headspace before trying one clothes. Here are a few questions to consider to check-in:

  • How am I feeling today?
  • How do I feel about shopping today?
  • What thoughts or stories am I telling myself about the shopping experience?
  • If I am feeling any uncomfortable emotions, what can I do to take care of myself before the experience?
  • Am I having a bad body image day? If so, can I postpone this experience to another day?

By acknowledging and being present with your feelings, you can better navigate the shopping journey.

2. Set intentions and create a shopping plan!

It’s always helpful to set intentions before you start shopping. What are your goals for this trip? Are you on the hunt for a specific item? How do you want to feel during the experience?

And we want to plan!

If you are going in person, you want to check if the stores carry your size. It can be helpful to know in advance to make your shopping experience more pleasurable.

If you shop online, research can be a game-changer! Take the time to explore websites, check out measurements, read reviews, and find out if the items run true to size. Additionally, looking at photos of different body sizes, shapes, and colours can be empowering and assist you in visualizing how the clothing will look on you. Lastly, if you are unsure of sizes, try ordering more than 1 size (be sure they have free returns policy!!) to be sure you can find your proper fit when you get home 🙂


This is a bonus step but I think an important one! Get rid of clothes that no longer fit your body, here and now. Make room in your closet (or drawers) for the clothes that comfortably fit you. You will see, this is a catalyst in healing your relationship with your body!

During Shopping: Embrace the Present Moment & Let Go of The Number

When you’re in the midst of a shopping spree or trying clothes at home, it’s essential to stay present and attuned to your body’s cues. Here are some tips to help you stay grounded:

Dress for comfort

If you are shopping in person, slip into something cozy and comfortable! By wearing clothes that make you feel at ease, your brain recognizes it as a safe stimulus, allowing you to focus on the shopping experience. Avoid wearing tight and uncomfortable clothes that can create a lot of friction on your body (i.e MORE stimuli) and make the experience feel more uncomfortable.

Check in with yourself frequently

You get to opt-out at any time. Check in with how you are feeling during the experience and if you need to pause or stop., listen to yourself. This is also a time you can use your toolbox of coping skills. If you start experiencing big emotions, take a moment to check in and engage with your coping skill! Don’t hesitate to take breaks during your shopping expedition, whether it’s for resting or grabbing a snack. These pauses can help prevent overwhelming emotions and anxiety from creeping in.

Comfort OVER Looks

This might be the BEST tip yet. When you try clothes, turn away from the mirror. As we have learned, clothing needs to be comfortable first. So, in order to truly determine if it’s the right fit, we want to focus on how we feel in the clothes. I personally like to turn away from the mirror and move around to see how the piece of clothing moves with me!

If it feels good, then you can proceed to look in the mirror.

If it does not feel good, then we don’t proceed to level 2. We move on to the next item!

Don’t focus on the number

I know, easier said than done.

AND, this is a crucial step. Just like the number on the scale, we need to remove our sense of worth from the number on the tag. The number is NOT an indication of who you are or your worth. It is only an indication of the size of that piece of clothing in comparision to the other sizes from that brand.

We know that sizing changes drastically between companies and even within the same brand depending on the style! Therefore, we want to work towards having a neutral approach regarding the # on the tag.

If an item is too small, you size up. That’s it. (ps: I know that this is not an easy step, and if you need support with this, we are happy to help! Book a free call here)

PS: on the podcast, I share a few anecdotes regarding sizing and numbers, if you struggle with this, be sure you listen to the podcast episode!

After Shopping: Show Yourself Some TLC

After the shopping expedition, it’s time to practice some self-care and show yourself some love. Here’s how:

Validate yourself

Validation is key after a potentially triggering experience like shopping. Acknowledge and validate yourself for showing up, checking in with your body, and recognizing any triggers or negative emotions that may have surfaced. Replace self-criticism with self-compassion, appreciating yourself for the efforts you put through.

Post-Shopping Self Care

Shopping can be stressful, so it’s important to unwind and take care of yourself afterward. Take a few deep breaths and ask yourself what you need in this moment. Comfort? Connection? Distraction? Relaxation? You may experience an emotional hangover so be sure to be gentle with yourself.

Should you shop online or in-person?

With the rise of online shopping, we now have more options to shop conveniently from the comfort of our homes. However, there are pros and cons to both in-person and online shopping when it comes to healing your relationship with food and your body.

In-person shopping provides a tactile and embodied experience. Trying on clothes and feeling how they fit on your skin can help you connect with your body and tune in to what feels comfortable and supportive. Additionally, in-person shopping offers the opportunity to witness size diversity in other people, which can inspire you and provide styling ideas.

On the other hand, online shopping offers a broader range of choices and saves you time and energy by eliminating the need to physically visit stores. However, not being able to try on clothes can be a challenge. Ordering multiple sizes and returning the ones that don’t fit can be a helpful workaround, but it may require some extra time and effort.

Regardless of your preferred shopping method, the key is to continue checking in with your body and prioritizing self-care throughout the entire experience.


Clothes shopping is unfortunely not something we can avoid when living on planet earth. Shopping can stir up a whirlwind of emotions for those on a journey of healing their relationship with food and their body. This is totally normal AND with time, we can to redefine the experience for ourselves.

With planning, present-moment awareness, and self-care practices, the shopping experience can become more positive and supportive. By checking in with your body and staying present during the shopping journey, you can learn to support yourself during the experience.

Whether you choose to shop in person or online, use the tips above to support you in having a better shopping experience.

Happy shopping, and happy healing!

Eating disorders are complex illnesses | The Balanced Practice Inc | Ottawa, ON

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post!

Eating disorders are complex illnesses | The Balanced Practice Inc | Ottawa, ON

If you are looking for more support from our team - We are happy to help

Book a free connection call

Join our Monthly Workshop

The Joy of eating | The Balanced Practice Inc | Ottawa, ON

Every month, The Balanced Practice offers a low-cost workshop on topics related to eating disorders/disordered eating. Check out the next one coming up!

Learn more
The Joy of eating | The Balanced Practice Inc | Ottawa, ON