Why Body Neutrality is Crucial to Heal from the Diet-Binge Cycle
Body neutrality, of all the new terms and ideas we teach in our Intuitive Eating Coaching Program, is the one that rings the truest for most of our clients. It comes as an epic relief and is something they can actually wrap their brain around.
Because when you’re coming from a place of dieting and binging and hating your body, body positivity feels impractical, like a lie or maybe an unrealistic pipe dream.
The morning after a binge, what one typically feels is hate and shame and disgust. And the gap between that place of body hate and authentic body love is just too wide to cross.
Enter: body neutrality.
Body neutrality is an incredibly important concept to grasp and put into place if your goal is freedom, sanity and peace with food and your body. It shifts the goal post to something you can actually strike, which we’ll get into in a minute. But first, why is it so important?
We simply have to heal our body image if we ever want to feel confident, happy and at peace with food. Because shitty body image is the number one underlying trigger for the diet-binge cycle. We never would have started dieting if we didn’t feel the unrelenting pull to fix our bodies. So healing your relationship with food can only take you so far if the omnipresent quest for a thinner body persists at its current strength level in your life.
Another reason you want to heal your body image is because becoming an intuitive eater is really centered on the practice of interoceptive awareness – the ability to hear and make sense of the physical sensations of the body that we’ve numbed over the years. But what’s the point of being able to feel those sensations if we’re not going to respond to them, right? Well, poor body image has been shown to interfere with interoceptive responsiveness – which is exactly that.
Do you see how these two things work in concert?
Poor body image queues up dieting and restriction.
Which queues up the binge eating.
And this cycle negatively impacts body image.
And around and around we go down this shitter of a cycle.
We have to work toward a more positive, resilient body image if we want to heal for good. And body neutrality is one of the most powerful ways we do that.
We discuss this in further detail on this week’s video over on YouTube, you can check that out here if you like: Understanding Body Neutrality.
I’ve written about the difference between body positivity and body neutrality in the past but, I will recap quickly.
Body positivity was a social justice movement originally created by activists to demand dignity, respect, rights and representation for people in marginalized bodies. It was not created as a tool for straight-sized white women to feel better about how they look. It has been co-opted by mainstream culture to be used for the latter purpose at the expense of the former which is problematic for two reasons. One, it erases the people it was originally created for and two, it just isn’t an effective tool to improve body image. There are no action steps. There’s no deconstructing of beliefs. There’s only empty affirmations and attempts to bullshit oneself into loving one’s cellulite.
Our take is that body positivity, in its original form, is a hugely important social justice movement to respect and support and get involved in. But it is not the tool to use to work toward a more positive body image.
Body neutrality on the other hand is a mindset shift that makes a huge difference. It is embracing the belief that we don’t have to love how we look to be confident and happy. That how we look is the least interesting or important thing about us. That (GASP) how we look just doens’t fucking matter that much.
Here’s the thing, research shows that the more we focus on our appearance, the more important it is to us to conform to beauty ideals, the more we care about how we look the more dissatisfied we’ll be. And this is any person in any body. The more we focus and emphasize the importance of our appearance, the more dissatisfied we become with it.
The opposite is also true. The less we focus on our appearance, the less we care about how we look, the more satisfied we are with it. It is a radical idea at first hearing for many but, it is also a relief.
Like, my god, how freeing to just not give so many shits about how we look. How novel!?
If you’ve been struggling to see how you could ever go from where you are now to authentically loving your rolls or posting pics of your cellulite on Instagram, we think body neutrality will probably strike a chord with you as well. It’s incredibly freeing to think of all the other ways you matter and are important and deserving of love and respect and dignity and all the amazing things in life – that have nothing to do with how you look.
If you want to dive deeper into this topic, we also discussed it on our podcast this week. Which you can check out here: Understanding Body Neutrality
Our 4-Step Process for Healing Body Image
Body neutrality is not the only piece of the body image puzzle though. There are three other crucial steps that we lead our clients through in our Intuitive Eating Coaching Program to help them heal their relationship with food and make peace with their bodies.
In fact, we created a 4-part video training series called How to Stop Hating Your Body to lead you through each of them.
Video 1 is all about cultural criticism and deconstructing the beliefs we’ve absorbed from society about how we look and sharpening the skill of protecting ourselves from the harmful messaging we see every single day that impacts how we feel about our bodies.
You can watch that here.
Then we discuss our personal beliefs and stories and how those who raised us, our personal experiences and history of dieting, trauma and body image have all combined to create our current operating system, and how we can install and update that system to positively impact our emotions and behaviors.
You can watch that video here.
And we also discuss body respect and how to incorporate tangible action steps to improve your body image every single day. You can’t hate your way into a body that you love, you must go through respect and appreciation first.
Learn how to do just that in this video.
And then in video four, we do a deeper dive into body neutrality as well.
And if you’d like the entire series delivered to your inbox along with downloadable exercises and personal messages from us, you can sign up for that here.
We also recapped the lessons and answered questions from everyone in our private Facebook group if you want to join and check those out as well. Click here to join the Wellness Lately Food Freedom & Intuitive Eating Support Collective.
Making Body Neutrality Work for You
We believe body neutrality is a more digestible, practical tool to implement than the co-opted version of body positivity. It’s much easier to grab onto when you’re stuck in that diet-binge cycle and feeling really uncomfortable in your own skin. Combine that with the other steps we’ve laid out for you in the above videos and you’ll be on your way to finally making peace with your body.
You can heal binge eating and break out of the diet-binge cycle quickly, sometimes overnight. But the harder work, we’ve found, is truly making peace with your body and alleviating that ever-present underlying trigger for this whole mess in the first place.
Body image is in the mind, not on the scale. It likely won’t happen overnight but, if you work the steps above and make the required mindset shifts, you truly can learn to respect your body, make peace with it and eventually, who knows, maybe you will learn to love it after all.
If you’re sick of feeling like shit and battling food and your body every single day, we’d like to help you with that. Our proven strategy of healing your relationship with food and making peace with your body is like being thrown a rope when you’re stuck down the well of dieting and body shame. All you have to do is shout for help.
Check out our free master class: 5 Simple Shifts to End Binge Eating to take a deep dive into our process.
Or, book a free Breakthrough Session with one of us today. We’ll hop on the phone, get to the bottom of your personal situation and finally help you climb out.