Let’s Chat: Body Neutrality

The term, “body neutrality” has proven to become a bit of a buzzword over the last few years. However, what exactly does it mean? And how is it different from “body positivity?”

To put it simply, “body neutrality” relates to how one practices respect towards their body, without aiming to change it. Body neutrality differs from body positivity in that it doesn’t always require you to love your body, but rather to accept it.

So, body neutrality focuses more on the body’s abilities and non-physical characteristics than its physical appearance: if you practice body neutrality, you may tell yourself, “My body enables me to participate in activities I enjoy,” or “because of my amazing body, I can enjoy the foods I love.” Further, instead of focusing on how your body looks, body neutrality is about appreciating what it can do.

Similarly, the term, “body positivity” refers to the belief that all people deserve to have a positive body image regardless of how society views ideal body types, sizes, and appearances. Additionally, body positivity aims to explain how popular media messages affect the way people feel about food, exercise, clothing, health, identity, and self-care, and how these messages contribute to their relationship with their bodies. It is hoped that, by better understanding the impact of such influences, people will be able to develop a more realistic and healthy relationship with themselves.

Would you like to practice body neutrality in your own wellness journey?

Here are some things you can implement to start exploring body neutrality:

Wear clothes that make you feel comfortable. As much as we try to squeeze into clothes that are too tight, it can lead to feelings of body shame; rather than tinkering with your outfit all day long, select whatever you feel most comfortable in – and if that means a t-shirt and some leggings, then that is totally okay!

Rationalize any spiraling thoughts. Before you spiral, thinking that your thighs are too large, and your arms are too flabby, ask yourself: “Are these thoughts helping me right now? Would it be beneficial to continue engaging with them?”

In these moments, you can make a choice; do you buy in and follow these thoughts, or do you pause and think of something neutral? For example, if your brain is screaming, “I look terrible,” try countering it with: “I am having a thought that I look terrible.” Through this, you may be able to realize that you, as a person, are not defined by these negative thoughts.

Cut off unwanted conversations. There’s no escaping the fact that you’ll be drawn into a diet- or body-related conversation – and it’s best to either redirect or not participate. In response to someone encouraging you to exercise to lose weight, you could explain that you exercise for the feelings it gives you, not so you will make you look a certain way.

Take your time. The goal of body neutrality isn’t a destination or an achievement; it’s a work in progress that we constantly strive for. It’s never too late to begin unlearning some of the things we’ve been taught for so many years – remember, be gentle with yourself!






-Sara Hoover, Graduate Assistant

A New Take on the New Year

As the pressure builds to create new habits this time of year, it can be overwhelming to make goals that align with what you truly desire. Diet culture, social media, and even friends and family can push us in the direction of weight loss and dieting. This can encourage quick fixes and fad diets that – let’s be honest – don’t work. Making realistic goals using Intuitive Eating can help you form a healthy relationship with food, your mind, and your body.What is Intuitive Eating?

Intuitive Eating is an approach to health and eating that focuses on listening to your body’s needs and making choices to honor what it is telling you. It teaches you to understand physical cues like hunger and satisfaction and grants you freedom to let your body be your guide. The 10 principles of Intuitive Eating include:

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality
  2. Honor Your Hunger
  3. Make Peace with Food
  4. Challenge the Food Police
  5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  6. Feel Your Fullness
  7. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness
  8. Respect Your Body
  9. Movement – Feel the Difference
  10. Honor Your Health – Gentle Nutrition

5 Non-Diet New Year’s Resolutions Using Intuitive Eating

  1. Find Joyful Movement Instead of Strict Exercise – Focus less on the hours spent at the gym and experiment with movements that you feed good and enjoy doing. Try a yoga class or join a local kickball team with a friend.
  2. Clean Your Social Media Feed – Unfollow or mute accounts that trigger comparison feelings or make you feel bad about yourself. Follow people who empower and inspire you and encourage your same values.
  3. Buy Clothes That Fit – The thought of buying bigger clothes can be scary but wearing clothes that are too tight or uncomfortable can make body image worse. Donate clothes that don’t fit your here-and-now body and stop overanalyzing sizes. Remember, the clothes are supposed to fit you, not the other way around.
  4. Develop Other Coping Mechanisms – Emotions are normal and part of what makes us human. Food and exercise are common outlets people turn to cope with emotions, but they can be taken to extremes. Create a list of alternative activities you can do when you feel triggered by an emotion, like calling a friend, going for a walk, or painting.
  5. Shift the Language – Stop labeling food as ‘bad’ or ‘good.’ Morality has no place in food, and this practice will just increase feelings of shame and guilt. The next time you notice yourself labeling food as ‘unhealthy’ or ‘guilt-free,’ try reframing your thoughts using neutral terms like colorful, satisfying, or fueling.

Adopting Intuitive Eating can give you a sense of peace and freedom. Food is meant to be eaten; our bodies are meant to be fueled. Reframing the way you approach your health and wellness goals can positively impact your likelihood of making long term changes.

To learn more about Intuitive Eating, schedule a free nutrition coaching appointment or participate in the Intuitive Eating Workshop Series.

-Janele Bayless, Wellness Coordinator


What Are the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating (And How They Can Help You)

10 Principles of Intuitive Eating


Fighting the Fear of the Freshman 15 (part two) 

So how can you go about dealing with the pressures surrounding the idea of the freshman 15? 

The first step is learning ways to combat any negative talk you may hear regarding the freshman 15 or any other college weight gain. Because this kind of talk has become so normalized, others may not be aware of the harm they may cause by bringing these topics up to incoming freshman. To make sure you prevent talk like this from bringing you down, try to challenge yourself to respond to these negative body talk statements in a purposeful way. 

If someone tries to warn you of the freshman 15, try telling them that it is simply a myth or that you will be happy with your body no matter your weight. You can also explain why statements such as those might be harmful to hear. If these seem too challenging to do, just try changing the subject.  

Besides avoiding negative body image talk, there are many ways to ensure you take steps to feeling better about yourself. At the end of the day, it’s your body, not anyone else’s, so you’re the only one who needs to like it.  

Here are a few simple steps to staying healthy and happy during your first year at college: 

  • Avoid diets. 

Studies have found that those who start a new diet their freshman year are more likely to gain weight. They also may be more likely to develop an eating disorder as well. Instead of dieting, practice intuitive eating. Intuitive eating involves eating whatever your body craves whenever you want it, guilt free.  

  • Make sure not to skip meals 

Skipping meals can lead to some of the same effects of dieting. It can also prevent you from having enough energy to perform well academically throughout the day. If you find yourself struggling to find time to eat in-between classes or other commitments, try keeping healthy snacks on hand to grab in a hurry.  

  • Drink enough water 

One study found that only about 15% of college students were drinking enough water each day. Water is important for every part of your body to function, especially your brain. Make sure to drink at least eight 8oz glasses of water each day.  

  • Get plenty of sleep 

Living minutes, or even seconds, away from your friends or a seemingly endless list of assignments can lead to many late nights during your college career. Not getting enough sleep can be extremely detrimental to your health. Try to get between at least 6-8 hours of sleep each night to make sure you are fully rested and have enough energy to take on the day.  

  • Schedule time for yourself 

With the introduction of several new commitments including a rigorous academic schedule your first semester at OSU, it can be easy to forget to make time for yourself. Remembering to take care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. To do so, find time to destress and relax in your favorite ways for at least a few minutes every single day.  

  • Find time to move 

Make time in your daily schedule to get some type of physical fitness in. This could come from taking a walk around campus or trying one of the RPAC’s group fitness classes. Doing so will not only help you take steps in the right direction for your physical health, but it can also be a great stress reliever.  

  • Utilize Ohio State’s many resources  

Ohio State has a ton of really great resources available to all students! Check out all the programs the Student Wellness Center offers including nutrition coaching and the body project to specifically work on any fears you may have surrounding college and body image.  


-Kayla Miedrzynski, Body Project Student Assistant   


Fighting the Fear of the Freshman 15 (part one) 

Almost every student has gotten the warning of the dreaded freshman fifteen before they even step foot on a college campus. You may have seen it talked about in movies or on the cover of your favorite magazines. You most likely even have heard about it from your friends and family. 

The idea that everyone gains fifteen pounds their freshman year of college has taken society by storm. We are all warned to stay away from the unlimited plates at the dining halls or sugary drinks that may be offered to us at parties, all because they can cause the number on the scale to increase. 

The beginning of your college career comes with so many things to worry about. How will I find my classes? What will my new friends be like? Am I going to be homesick? How much weight you may gain or what your body looks like should be the least of your worries.  

The beginning of freshman year is also one of the most exciting times in anyone’s life. Never before have you had so many new opportunities waiting for you. If you spend all your time worrying about potentially gaining weight, you are going to miss out on so many great experiences. It is just not worth it. 

The matter of the fact is the freshman fifteen is also simply just a myth. Numerous studies have found the average weight gain is far lower than fifteen pounds. In fact, many students do not see a change in their weight or may even lose some weight during the first year at college.  

Even if you do see a change in your body during your freshman year, so what? As long as you are happy and healthy, there is no reason to try to change the way that you look. Trying to hold on to your high school body forever is impossible. It is normal for everyone to go through different phases of their lives where their bodies transition in some way or another.  

Each and every body changes as it ages over the course of each decade. By the age of 17-19 your body is still far from being done with growing. For both men and women, bone and muscle mass reach their mass peak sometime during their late teenager years or their early twenties. It is also common for your metabolism to start slowing down around the age of 20. Even if you keep the same food and exercise habits as you did in high school, your body may react differently. This means that the body you enter college with is not the body you will be leaving college with. 

Also, during this time, students are likely to be going through some emotionally challenging events. For the first time, you will be on your own as an independent adult trying to figure out your social and personal lives. It is easy to begin to feel overwhelmed and even lost, which can have damaging effects on not only your physical health, but your mental health as well.  

These potential challenges to your mental and physical health are far more important to worry about than your weight. It is important to stay proactive rather than reactive when it comes to your health. Check out part two of this series to learn about ways to deal with the fear of the freshman fifteen.  


-Kayla Miedrzynski, Body Project Student Assistant   

The New Best Diet 

Chocolate = bad  
Salad = good 
Pizza = bad 
Vegetables = good 

Isn’t it tiring having all of these “good” and “bad” labels racing through your head, controlling your thoughts, as you decide on what to eat? Now, imagine if you stopped categorizing food as “good” and “bad” and listened to what your body craved instead. 

The new best diet is having no diet: it is listening to your body and eating intuitively. Intuitive eating is the concept of listening to your hunger cues and what your body is craving and allowing yourself to have it, no matter what it may be.  

This concept may be hard to digest at first. When I first came across the idea of intuitive eating, I did not believe in it at all. In fact, I thought it was ridiculous. I didn’t understand how eating whatever I wanted could do any good for my physical health, mental health, or my appearance. I thought that if I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, I would never stop binging and eating the foods that I thought were “bad” for me.  

When you restrict your body of what it needs, it can lead to extreme hunger and uncontrollable cravings. This can then trigger your body to go into binge mode, where you feel out of control with your eating. After binge eating however, you feel guilty, so you start to restrict again. Only, restriction doesn’t work for long, because you eventually end up going through the cycle again. This is known as the binge-restrict cycle, and it can have negative physical and emotional effects on you. 

After focusing on intuitively eating for over a year now, I can say that it has tremendously helped to heal my relationship with food by eliminating the binge-restrict cycle from my life. Some days I want a burger with fries, so I will eat a burger with fries. Other days, I want a salad, so I will eat a salad. Allowing my body to listen to its cravings has tremendously helped me with overcoming binge eating. Not only is intuitive eating something that has worked for me personally, but many studies about intuitive eating have been conducted, and they all show very positive results.  

Starting to focus on intuitive eating can seem very daunting at first, and it is totally okay if it does not initially come naturally. It is so hard to break the repetitive patterns of dieting that society has ingrained into our heads. Even as someone who whole-heartedly advocates for intuitive eating, I still struggle every once in a while to do it myself. 

You can start practicing intuitive eating by asking yourself, “Am I hungry right now?” If you answer yes to that question, you can then ask, “What am I craving?” After choosing what you would like to eat and allowing yourself to have it, be in tune with how your stomach and body is feeling. If you are full before finishing all of your food, there is no pressure to force yourself to finish it. If you finish your food and still feel hungry, go for some more! There are no strict rules with intuitive eating: just principles to help guide you and your body to a healthier relationship with food. 

Overall, intuitive eating has allowed me to have the best relationship with food that I have had in many years. Allowing your body to have freedom with food frees up so much of your time and energy. Instead of spending unnecessary time thinking about what foods you can and cannot have, you can spend time doing activities that will enhance and fulfill your life instead. I highly encourage you to give intuitive eating a try and start to better your relationship with food. Intuitive eating has changed my relationship with food for the better, and I hope it will have a positive impact on yours as well.  

-Kelly Lin, Body Project Student Assistant

How to Make the Internet a More Positive Place: 5 Steps to Clean Up Your Social Media 

Have you ever been scrolling through social media and noticed a sudden shift in your mood? Have the posts you have seen make you feel worse about yourself? If so, you are not alone. 

Many of us experience feelings of self-doubt after spending time on our social media accounts. Maybe you feel envious of the perfect lives others seem to be living, or you start to wish your body looked more like those of popular celebrities and influences.  

Whatever the case may be, there are many aspects of social media that can harm our mental wellbeing, especially when it comes to body image.  

A recent study found that “thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse.” Facebook also found that fourteen percent of boys in the United States said Instagram made them feel worse about themselves.  

As social media is becoming more popular and we are spending more time on it each day, it is important to make sure it is not something that brings you down. Making sure this time spent online leads to a positive mindset is key to your overall wellbeing. 

One way to move towards this mindset is to complete a cleanse of your social media accounts. Doing this can make sure that time spent online helps you move towards a healthy lifestyle.  

Here are a few ways to complete a social media cleanse of your own:  

  1. Set your intentions.  
    • Think about the reasons why you use your different social media accounts. Do you enjoy talking to friends and family? Finding a new restaurant to try out? Learn something new? Make a list of these reasons and remember them when considering whether to follow or unfollow an account. If an account does not match up with one of your intentions, unfollow it! 
  2. Remove negative accounts . 
    • Look out for specific pages or people to unfollow if they tend to post content that makes you feel bad about yourself. Focus on your reaction to looking at what that account posts. If it tends to be negative, it may be time to let that account go.  
  3. Explore new content. 
    • Social media is a great resource for finding wellness content, especially about body image. The body positivity movement has become a major trend over the last few years and there are a ton of creators that specialize in creating body acceptance content. Make sure to explore accounts and hashtags recommend for you to help you find new creators to follow.  
  4. Utilize all the platforms features. 
    • Most social media platforms have some way to limit the posts that you see from certain accounts. Take some time to look into features such as muting certain accounts, turning off comments, and hiding likes. All of these can make social media a more positive space by removing some of the stress that comes along with using it.  
  5. Take a break from social media all together. 
    • Try limiting the time you spend on social media each day and exploring different ways to pass the time. There are so many ways to increase your physical and mental health by staying offline such as spending time outdoors, trying a new activity with friends, or even completing tasks on your to-do list.


-Kayla Miedrzynski, Body Project Student Assistant

Recovery and Support: Eating Disorders and Substance Use Disorder 

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, nearly 50% of those struggling with eating disorders also struggle with substance abuse (5 times higher than the general population) and approximately 30-35% of those with substance misuse disorders also suffer from eating disorders (11 times higher than the general population). 

While the two diseases may seem entirely unrelated, both conditions are, at their core, coping mechanisms to escape pain, anxiety, or sadness. Both disorders provide temporary “escapes” from whatever may be plaguing the sufferer, but these behaviors ultimately become all-consuming, and compulsive. 

Similarly, eating disorders and substance misuse disorders share many of the same risk factors: brain chemistry, family history, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and social factors (National Eating Disorder Association).  

There are notable differences between eating disorders and substance misuse disorders, including the traditional treatment plans of both. For substance misuse disorders, abstinence from substances is considered the most effective plan of treatment. This is considered a “power over” approach to recovery. Additionally, many substance misuse recovery communities instruct the individual to claim the disease as an identity.  

On the other hand, eating disorder recovery focuses on moderating overcontrol and normalizing eating patterns (one cannot be “abstinent” from eating,) which is called a “power with” approach to recovery. Moreover, treatment almost always focuses on shifting the patient’s identity away from the disease.  

Furthermore, substance misuse disorders are characterized as chronic, non-curable medical illnesses, while eating disorders are conceptualized as curable psychiatric illnesses. 

Recovery from both eating disorders and substance misuse is possible, although patients who struggle with both may want to consider comprehensive, parallel treatment that recognizes the link between the two conditions and treats both together. Studies have shown better long-term recovery outcomes for patients who struggle with both ED and SUD when the two are treated together.  

However, these kinds of integrated treatment programs are rare (only 16% of the 351 publicly funded treatment programs for drug abuse also offer eating disorder treatment), and this disparity often leaves patients to seek treatment for the two conditions separately. Medical and psychiatric professionals are urging treatment centers to offer more comprehensive treatment options for the many people suffering from this comorbidity.  

For Ohio State students, there are many free and low cost Disordered Eating and Substance Misuse support resources at Ohio State including: Nutrition CoachingCounseling and Consultation Services, and the Eating Concerns Consultation Team as well as the Collegiate Recovery Community and the Wexner Medical Center Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Services. 

 -Graduate and Professional Student, Student Wellness Center

If Loving Your Body Feels Too Unattainable, You’re Not Alone  

When Body Neutrality May Make More Sense than Body Positivity 

In her TedTalk titled, “Our Bodies are Not an Image,” Mary Jelkovsky makes the following powerful statement: “Our bodies are not an image. They’re an experience.” The phrase “body image” is frequently used to describe how one feels about and perceives their body; however, even this phrase falls victim to perhaps one of the biggest barriers to body acceptance: the idea that our bodies are an image, a visual, an aesthetic. 

We’ve been made to think that our bodies should look a certain way, weight a certain amount, and be shaped just right, but in doing so we lose sight of the true purpose of our bodies: to move us through life and allow us to experience joy, excitement, love, and hope.  

Our bodies are not an image. They are not visual or an aesthetic. They are functional. 

Body positivity has taken social media by storm over the past few years, with influencers, activists and even brands pushing the message that you should love your body. For some, this message is empowering, uplifting, and inspiring. For others, it feels too out of reach. To go from self-hate to self-love is no easy or quick journey, and many people feel that they fall somewhere in the middle.  

 If this sounds familiar, let me introduce you to the idea of body neutrality. It’s a philosophy that emphasizes that it is absolutely okay to simply accept your body, without feeling that it is beautiful or feeling love and positivity towards it. As the name suggests, body neutrality is simply feeling neutral towards your body. You don’t hate your body, but you’re also not in love with it the way body positive influencers seem to be. You might see your body similarly to Mary Jelkovsky, in that you focus on what your body does for you over what it looks like.  

Body neutrality, importantly, leaves space for individuals who may find it especially difficult to fully love their bodies: for instance, transgender individuals may struggle with “loving” a body that doesn’t match their gender expression. Individuals who struggle with body dysmorphia may struggle because their perception of what their body looks like is frequently changing. There is room for everyone in body neutrality since it is far more accessible. 

Some examples of what body neutrality in everyday life looks like include: 

  • Exercising as a form of joyful movement (because it makes you feel good), instead of exercising as a form of punishment 
  • Eating intuitively because your body needs to be nourished in order to function in the way you want it to be 
  • Choosing to wear clothes that you are comfortable in; you may not feel “confident,” but you feel comfortable 
  • Practicing mindfulness and listening to your body when it tells you it needs sleep, rest, movement, or nourishment 

 All in all, body neutrality is a form of body acceptance that recognizes how body positivity and self-love may be unrealistic goals for some. Body neutrality may be an ending point, or just a stop along the way of your body acceptance journey. The point is that it’s YOUR journey, and body acceptance is not one-size-fits-all. 

-Graduate and Professional Student, Student Wellness Center

Establishing a Healthy Body Image and Relationship with Food in a Digital Era 

In an age where we are constantly connected and get almost all our information through our phone screens, the media we intake can be equally as important as the food we consume. The people and accounts we follow on social media can have a huge impact on our mental health and how we view our bodies. When conditions like orthorexia (an unhealthy obsession with being healthy) emerge, because of our time spent on social media, it is important to closely monitor the information we are absorbing (Amidor, 2018).  

When we are so influenced by what we see on the internet, it only makes sense to want to be influenced positively! Here are some ideas on how to strengthen body images and relationships with food by making some changes to our online actions: 

  1. When it comes to the people and accounts being followed, ask yourself “what kind of message the page is sending?” Is it promoting body positivity at all shapes and sizes or broadcasting one body size as best? Avoid following “thinspo” accounts or any page that gives a narrow scope of health and beauty. We are all meant to be happy at a genetically predisposed weight and we should follow accounts that promote and celebrate that idea. 
  2. Ask yourself what kind of language the accounts you follow and the people around you use when talking about food and fitness. Food should be thought of as fuel and never as a bad thing. It isn’t something that needs to be “worked off” with vigorous exercise. Food and exercise should be used as things that make us feel better! Follow pages that encourage intuitive eating (which includes being mindful and respectful of hunger cues) and eating all foods in moderation. It is also a good idea to think about adding healthy foods to your diet rather than subtracting anything. Totally limiting certain foods has been found to be less healthy (mentally and physically) than enjoying all foods in moderation (Bacon and Aphrmor, 2011). 
  3. Contribute positively on your own pages to add to the healthy conversation surrounding food and body image. When a friend posts a cute picture, leaving a comment that isn’t specifically about their body can help you and others (follow @VictoriaGarrick4)! “Looks like so much fun!” or “I love your outfit!” are some examples.  

Look after your own mental health by filtering what your news feeds are showing you. Strive for positivity surrounding all foods and bodies and add to the change in rhetoric by encouraging your friends and family to do the same! 

 P.S.- Here are some of my favorite body positivity/healthy relationship with food accounts: 

  • @dietitian.rachelgoodman on Instagram
  • @maryscupofteaa on Instagram 
  • @effyourbeautystandards                                                                         
  • @VictoriaGarrick4 on TikTok 


– Sarah Haskins, Nutrition Wellness Ambassador 

What I Wish I Knew About Body Image as a Freshman

Dear Freshman Juliya,


I want to start off my saying how much you are loved and valued by solely who you are as a person, apart from your external shell. You encapsulate such a kind heart that is far more powerful than any cosmetic feature you hold.


It will take a while to appreciate your body for what it can do and not for what it looks like it can do. However, you will get there with time, self-compassion, and self-work.


It was not long ago when I sat in your seat- in the depths of an eating disorder relapse. I remember convincing myself day-in and day-out that I was just going through a “phase” despite the alarming increase of unhealthy eating and exercise behaviors.


However, the consequences of these behaviors will catch up to you one day. So much so that you will find yourself at 8 AM doctor appointments rather than 8 AM lectures.


I know it may sound scary to walk through recovery, but do not fear letting in people who you trust into your life. There is immeasurable strength through the act of opening yourself up to vulnerability. It will honestly be hard to strip yourself from the security blanket of ED that you’ve held onto for so long.


However, you will realize that the security blanket was only holding you back as you rediscover your identity and faith. Without this “shield,” you may feel naked, but the reward (full recovery) in return yields far greater gifts that allow you to live life in its fullest color and health.


The recovery journey can be a messy and challenging venture. However, I believe that you can and will do it. Where you are right now, is not who you are as a person.


Do not let your eating disorder or circumstances dictate your will or spirit to overcome this tribulation. Stick with it, and celebrate every single small victory. I encourage you to let in the people who unconditionally love you and to put forth the work to recover.


Every step matters- regardless of its size. Keep fighting the good fight. Lastly, remember that your body is an instrument, not an ornament. Bloom where you are planted.



Senior Juliya


P.S. No Rain, no flowers. There is beauty from ashes in all situations if you allow yourself into that frame of mind.


Learn strategies for body kindness, self-love, and eating disorder support during Love Your Body Week 2021. During the week of February 21-26, twenty-three events will take place virtually, focusing on educating, celebrating and creating a sustainable and supportive campus environment for all body types and experiences. Love Your Body Week offers a wide range of programs including fitness classes, educational programs, art therapy, mindfulness, and more.


All OSU students, faculty, and staff are invited to participate.



Juliya Hsiang, 4th year  

Major – Heath Promotion Nutrition Exercise Science (HPNES)