She is a powerful leader and passionate advocate for building nourishing new narratives for us, that don’t include depriving ourselves of the cultural foods we grew up eating. She’s been featured and quoted in Well+Good, NY Times, and Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health Podcast. Check out her work and learn more here.
Finding Peace in Relationship with Body: A Mindful Approach
Body positivity has been a popular trend in recent years, with the idea of being kind to ourselves and loving our bodies no matter their appearance. While this is a noble goal, it can come with certain pitfalls that make it difficult to sustain long-term. Body neutrality is an alternative approach that may be more manageable and sustainable. It involves shifting the focus away from appearances and onto our physical, emotional, and mental states.
In this article, we will explore how intuitive eating, mindful eating practices, and challenging negative self-talk can help us to develop a kinder, more peaceful relationship with our body. Moreover, we’ll also look at how to embrace a full range of emotions in our eating habits and redirect the focus away from idealized body images.
Reasons Body Positivity Can Be Problematic:
The focus on body positivity may seem positive, but it can be difficult to sustain over time. We are constantly bombarded with standards of beauty and perfection that feel impossible to live up to. This pressure to meet societal standards can overwhelm and damage our self-esteem. Here are reasons why body positivity can be problematic:
1. The Focus Remains on Appearance:
While being kind to ourselves and loving our bodies no matter their appearance may seem noble, it can be difficult to sustain long-term when constantly bombarded with idealized body images. We can become so focused on how we look that it becomes difficult to appreciate the beauty of our uniqueness and individuality. Moreover, it can become an obsession with our appearance and make us feel like we are not good enough.
2. Pressure to Meet Societal Standards:
Our culture often values physical beauty above all else, so trying to live up to those standards can become a difficult task. We may feel like we are not attractive or worthy enough if we don’t fit a particular mold. This can lead to shame and insecurity, leading to poor self-esteem and an unhealthy relationship with our body.
3. Unhealthy Comparisons:
When focused on body positivity, it is easy to compare ourselves to others and feel inadequate. We may look at someone who has achieved the “ideal” body and feel like we don’t measure up. This can lead to feelings of envy, jealousy, and resentment, as well as loneliness and isolation, which often are harmful to our physical and mental health.
4. Unrealistic Expectations:
Body positivity can also create unrealistic expectations that are difficult to meet or maintain over time. We may set goals for ourselves that are out of reach or try to force our bodies into a certain shape or size. This can cause us to feel frustrated and disappointed if we don’t meet those expectations.
Distinct Capabilities Enhanced By Body Neutrality, Making It A Rather Sustainable Approach:
Body neutrality is a term used to describe focusing on our physical, emotional, and mental states without attaching any value judgments to them. It involves shifting away from focusing on how we look and listening to what our bodies tell us.
1. Shift Focus From Appearance To Feeling:
Body neutrality encourages us to listen to what our bodies tell us and take actions that honor our physical, mental, and emotional needs. We can focus less on appearance and more on how we feel. This helps us accept ourselves and build a healthier relationship with our bodies.
Body neutrality involves embracing all aspects of ourselves, including the parts that may bring discomfort or challenge societal beauty standards. If we shift the focus from appearance to feeling, we can learn to appreciate our unique bodies without judgment.
2. Reject Unattainable Beauty Standards:
One of the main goals of body neutrality is to reject unattainable beauty standards that society pushes on us. We can learn to accept ourselves as we are and recognize that one size does not fit all. After recognizing and embracing our uniqueness, we can appreciate our bodies without comparison or judgment. Moreover, we can focus on activities that bring us joy and make us feel good rather than striving for perfection.
3. Create Self-Awareness:
Body neutrality helps us create self-awareness by teaching us to focus on our thoughts and feelings. We can learn to listen to our bodies and recognize our feelings without judgment or expectation. By creating self-awareness, we can start appreciating our bodies and learning to accept them as they are. We can start making decisions based on our values and needs rather than trying to meet a certain beauty ideal or standard.
4. Embrace Our Uniqueness:
Body neutrality encourages us to embrace our uniqueness and celebrate all aspects of ourselves, even those that don’t fit the ideal of societal beauty. We can appreciate our body for what it is and recognize that our worth does not come from our appearance. Instead, we can focus on our strengths and celebrate what makes us unique.
5. Develop Positive Self-Talk:
Body neutrality encourages us to develop positive self-talk and be more mindful of our thoughts. We can start recognizing negative thoughts and replacing them with positive affirmations rooted in self-love and acceptance. This helps us create a healthier relationship with our body as we focus more on what we can do than how we look.
Ways to Apply Body Neutrality to Find Peace in Our Relationship with Food and the Body:
1. Intuitive Eating:
Intuitive eating, an evidence-based approach to eating that encourages us to listen to and trust our body’s internal cues and trust them. This can help us make food choices that honor our physical, mental, and emotional needs without fear or guilt. It teaches us to acknowledge our hunger and fullness signals and eat without judgment or external pressures.
2. Mindful Eating:
Mindful eating is about being present when you eat and engaging all your senses to create a sense of mindfulness and appreciation for food. This helps us to become more aware of bodies’ needs and the pleasure of eating. It can also help us become more aware of external influences and learn to make food choices that honor our physical and emotional well-being.
3. Honor Your Cravings:
The approach tells us to listen to our bodies’ cravings and stop labeling foods as “good” or “bad.” Instead, we can learn to honor our cravings and make food choices that nurture us and help us feel satisfied. This helps us break free from the restrictive diet mentality and focus on how food makes us feel instead of trying to fit a certain beauty ideal.
4. Celebrate Food:
Another powerful method is to celebrate food instead of viewing it as only a source of fuel or calories. We can start to appreciate the flavor, texture, and pleasure of eating without the guilt and shame that often comes with dieting. This helps us create a healthier relationship with food by recognizing all the joy it can bring us and learning to savor the experience.
In conclusion, you should now understand that our food and feelings about our bodies are deeply connected. By embracing body neutrality, you can focus on feelings and sensations rather than appearance to develop a healthier relationship with yourself and food. With Way App, you can access all the tools and resources necessary to help you learn how to trust your intuition and practice mindful eating habits. This way, you can create a balanced relationship with food and your body, bringing peace to both.