The word “health” or “healthy” is used more and more these days. So what does it really mean and what doesn’t it mean? The meaning of healthy has changed over the last several years and has been taken to an unrealistic extreme. By definition healthy means "absence of physical or mental illness, limitation, or disease", but does this seem realistic or achievable? Health has also become synonymous with weight. You are healthy if you are normal weight and unhealthy if you are overweight or obese. Our society continues to tell us if we are not healthy or "normal weight" based on BMI standards thus we are unhealthy and should lose weight. It’s the same for food. We are told some foods are healthy or "good” and we "should" eat them and some foods are unhealthy or "bad" and we "shouldn't" eat them.
So why is there so much pressure in our society to achieve this unrealistic view of health? Does achieving this health standard make us better human beings, live longer or have happier lives? Probably not! Instead it leads to increased stress, disordered eating, poor body image and poor health outcomes.
What if I told you that health and being healthy isn’t so black and white. Instead it is more grey. There is no one size fits all approach, weight doesn't equate to health and food is just food! (Sigh of relief huh?) The truth is, achieving health is a continuum and can change over time. Health also looks different for me than it does for you. This includes the types of foods our body’s need, the weight and size our body wants to be, and what physical activity feels good for our body. The only “good”, “should” or “right” is what your body (not your mind) tells you!
So what is "health" for YOU?
Trusting and listening to your body. This includes getting in tune with your body’s hunger and satiety cues as well as eating foods based on enjoyment, what makes your body feel good and your specific nutrition needs. Sometimes this means eating a burger and fries and sometimes it’s a salad. I don't know about you but after a week of vacation and traveling my body craves vegetables. This is a great example of listening to what your body needs. Don't just eat a salad because you think you "should".
Moving in a way that feels good for your body. Movement shouldn't cause pain or be something you think you “should” do. Instead think of physical activity as a way to make your body feel good, increase your energy, make you stronger, decrease stress or even relax you.
Accepting that your body is unique! No body is the same; it’s just a fact of life! Instead of focusing on your physical appearance or how your body “should” look based on an unrealistic social standards, focus on what your body does for you like allowing you to move, do your job, or create and raise a family.
Again, remember what is healthy or feels good for your body now, is not going to be the same tomorrow or five years from now. Also, remember, achieving true "health" as it is defined in the dictionary is not realistic. The definition of health is different for everyone. To me, health is being able to listen to my body and do what feels right and being able to accept myself the way it is, no matter what.
Interested in learning and getting in touch with what is healthy for you?
Have more questions or concerns about feeding your family? Please contact our dietitian, Lauren Sharifi to set up an appointment. Lauren@asfpeakhealth.com