I’ve had the privilege of sitting on a fair few panel talks recently, exploring the real meaning of health. Some were in front of a fitness crowd, and some more corporate, but regardless of the audience, I found one common belief between them all- ‘health is a weight on the scale, and healthy food is food which aids in weight loss’. This couldn’t be further from the truth! So, where did it get so skewed?
Health In The Age Of Social Media
To begin, the correct definition of health is: ‘A state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. I don’t know about you, but I can’t see anything in that definition about scales, calories, weight loss or restricting. It reads to me, that health is about gaining rather than losing.
I think health first lost it’s message in the media when the A-list celebs were being glorified for following things like the 5:2 diet. Then when social media took over, we had an influx of self-proclaimed ‘fitness gurus’ trying to make their diet sounds sexier to the next person, in the pursuit of feeling significant. On top of all of that, unattainably lean men and women laced the front pages of Women’s/ Men’s Health magazines, forcing people to believe that if they wanted to be deemed as healthy they had to look like a superhero.
I was a victim of following the wrong definition of health for the most part of my teens. I was a believer that less is more, and my lack of knowledge resulted in landing me in a very dark place. It’s taken a good few years for me to find my own feet again when it comes to what health really is, but I’ve persevered and I feel like my lifestyle now reflects the true meaning of health.
So what does it look like?
The Real Meaning Of Health
Some of you may be sat there thinking that a healthy lifestyle means a lifestyle of restriction. But it isn’t! A healthy lifestyle is about taking care of you and your body. The real meaning of health isn’t about a weight on a scale, it’s about the happiness of you and your body.
For me, this means:
I don’t ‘cut’ anything out of my diet; I strive to add as much as possible
In the past I thought to be healthy I had to cut out food groups like carbohydrates, I thought I should avoid sugar at all costs, and I should hold back from eating too much processed foods. Now, It’s all about adding as many colours, and as much variety into my diet as possible. I base my meals on lots of colourful veggies, and then I add a good balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. This way, I know I’m feeding my body and my gut with all of the good stuff. But there are no foods in my diet that are off limits, so of course, I’m still partial to choccy biccy, and may favorite ‘sticky toffee pudding’ when I want it.
I take my daily vitamins
I’ve always dabbled in and out of vitamins because I thought I could get all of my necessary vitamins from food. Although I do try to get most of my vitamins and nutrients from food, It’s not always possible, due to the soils being depleted, and food being flow in from far away. Since widening my knowledge on where food is grown and in what conditions, I now have my compulsory daily vitamins.