Why Body Neutrality is a More Sustainable Approach than Body Positivity

She earned her Master’s degree in nutrition and dietetics from Arizona State University. In her early career, she worked as a clinical dietitian in an intensive care unit.

In 2017, Abby co-founded EVOLVE Flagstaff, an integrative practice that offers weight-inclusive services including physical therapy, injury prevention, nutrition counseling, training, and meal preparation. Her nutrition practice mainly focuses on working with athletes and individuals with eating disorders. She helps her clients to re-establish their relationship with food and movement and unlearn behaviors that negatively impact their relationship with their bodies and food.

Apart from her work with clients, Abby is an aerialist and dancer, and director of a non-profit performing arts company, Dark Sky Aerial. She enjoys cooking, coaching strength and conditioning, and teaching yoga. Depending on the season you will find her outdoors biking, skiing, or reading in the sun with her dogs.

Why Body Neutrality is a More Sustainable Approach than Body Positivity

Body positivity has gained popularity recently as a movement promoting self-love, acceptance, and appreciation of diverse bodies. However, despite its positive intentions, body positivity has been criticized for being potentially problematic and unsustainable in the long run.

Developing a peaceful relationship with food and our bodies can be challenging, particularly in a world that often promotes failing restrictive diets, eating cultures, and body shaming yet disregards mental, joyful, emotional, stressful, and social aspects of eating. Meanwhile, adopting a mindful approach to eating and self-exploration can help us cultivate a healthier and more peaceful relationship with food and our bodies.

This blog post will explore how the Way app’s unique blending of intuitive and mindful eating principles, and behavior science can help us achieve body neutrality. It will also focus on body neutrality as an alternative approach that promotes a more sustainable and healthy relationship with our bodies, especially regarding our relationship with food.

Body Positivity vs. Body Neutrality:

I. Differences:

The body positivity movement is rooted in the idea that all bodies are beautiful and deserving of love and respect, regardless of size, shape, or appearance. However, some critics argue that this movement can be limiting and exclusive, focusing mainly on physical appearance rather than promoting overall health and well-being. Additionally, body positivity can pressure individuals to love and accept their bodies, which can be difficult or even impossible for some, or just at certain moments (we’ve all had one of “those” days).

On the other hand, body neutrality emphasizes the importance of accepting and respecting our bodies without necessarily loving them. It encourages individuals to focus on their bodies’ functions and abilities rather than their appearance and to develop a neutral attitude toward their body size and shape. By adopting a more neutral perspective, individuals can shift their focus away from external validation and towards internal self-acceptance and self-compassion.

II. Body Neutrality Strengths: What Makes This Approach A More Sustainable Option

Whereas body positivity is a movement advocating for self-acceptance and appreciation of diverse bodies, body neutrality takes a more objective stance toward our physical appearance. It acknowledges that our bodies are imperfect but doesn’t assign any meaning to them. It prioritizes mental health over physical appearance and encourages us to view our bodies as neutral, functioning tools rather than objects of beauty or shame.

Body neutrality also recognizes everyone’s relationship with their body is unique and personal. It doesn’t require people to be positive about their appearance but instead encourages them to accept themselves and explore other aspects of their identity.

It also seeks to reduce our importance on physical appearance by recognizing that our bodies are just one aspect of who we are, not the defining factor in our lives. This perspective can help develop more sustainable eating habits don’t focus on body or appearance. Instead of striving for a certain body type or size, body neutrality encourages us to focus on our physical well-being and overall health.

The Way App: Role In Cultivating Intuitive Eating Principles and Mindful Eating

The Way App offers an innovative curriculum of sessions that aim to educate users on how they can incorporate intuitive principles and mindful eating habits without dieting or strict rules. It blends intuitive eating principles, behavior science (predominantly cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and the “Magic Wand” question, which is a part of dialectic behavioral therapy (DBT) and addiction therapy), and mindfulness to help users develop an enhanced understanding of their relationship with food and their bodies.

The App is based on the intuitive eating framework and emphasizes the importance of understanding, accepting, and trusting ourselves. It helps users identify their needs and develop an approach to nourishing themselves tailored to those needs. For instance, it uses a “Magic Wand” question (What would you do if you had a magic wand, and could change anything about your relationship with food, imagine what that would feel like, look like, what you’d be eating, how you’d feel about your body?) to help people develop a clear picture, that draws a more mindful and curious attitude towards their eating habits.

Moreover, Way encourages users to adopt body neutrality by treating their bodies with kindness and respect. This includes giving up the pursuit of perfection or unrealistic dietary goals and shifting focus to understanding what their bodies need to feel nourished, energized, and healthy.

III. Body Neutrality Strengths

Another technique you learn from the app is to be mindful of your food choices. Mindful eating involves being present, aware, and non-judgmental regarding what you consume. It encourages us to pay attention and listen to our bodies’ signals to identify when we are hungry or full and what types of foods make us feel energized and nourished.

Most importantly, the Way App helps users cultivate a healthier relationship with their bodies and food by teaching them techniques such as body neutrality, intuitive eating principles, mindful eating, and more. These techniques help us to focus on our overall health and well-being instead of striving for unrealistic body standards or diets that are not sustainable in the long run.

Ways Intuitive and Mindful Eating Enhance A Healthy Relationship with Food and Our Bodies:

The are numerous ways in which intuitive and mindful eating helps us develop a healthier relationship with our bodies, food, and spirit/soul.

First, they allow us to be more aware and intentional about the foods we consume. This helps us avoid over-indulging or overeating due to emotional triggers, because we become more understanding and compassionate of them. Being mindful of our eating habits gives us a chance to regroup and make conscious decisions about what we eat.

Second, intuitive and mindful eating can help you reduce the stress that people experience when dealing with your relationship with food or body image issues. Rather than trying to control every aspect of diet, intuitive and mindful eating encourages us to trust our bodies and make decisions that honor them.

Third, intuitive and mindful eating can help us develop a more respectful relationship with food by allowing us to appreciate its nourishment rather than demonizing certain foods. Doing this further gives us autonomy in our nutritional choices, which many people lack in the current diet culture.

Fourth, intuitive and mindful eating can help us break rigid dietary rules and instead focus on nourishing our bodies with nutritious food when we are hungry and stopping when we feel full. This helps us avoid feelings of deprivation or guilt that often accompany restrictive diets, which can damage our mental health.

Finally, intuitive and mindful eating can help us to develop a more balanced relationship with food and our bodies. Instead of feeling guilty or ashamed about what we eat, it encourages us to create an environment that is supportive of our overall well-being, in both physical and emotional aspects.

Final Thought

Overall, body neutrality is effective for those looking to have a healthier relationship with food and their bodies. It gives us the autonomy and empowerment to make well-informed decisions about our nutrition while also helping us learn how to trust and honor our bodies. With its focus on intuitive and mindful eating, body neutrality is more sustainable than traditional approaches, such as the body positivity movement. So try these techniques if you want a more balanced relationship between food and your body!

You can also check out Way App – an intuitive eating app that teaches members evidence-based strategies to approach their well-being from a place of self-compassion. By combining the principles of intuitive and mindful eating with body neutrality, Way App helps people recognize the importance of pausing before eating, being mindful of their food choices, and learning to distinguish between hunger and emotional triggers.