What does healthy mean to you? Energy? Strength? Happiness? Does it mean the body of a Victoria’s secret model? A tiny waist, endless legs and abs that would make a bodybuilder jealous? What does healthy look like? Because I think somewhere between the internet and Instagram our perception of what ‘health’ is has changed.
I won’t bore you with the details but I come from a background of extremely restricted eating. At some point between the age of 13 and adulthood I decided my green skull and cross bone laced converse were ridiculous and attempted to dress myself in everyone else’s idea of perfection.
Somewhere between the Internet and Instagram our perception of what ‘health’ is had changed.
And then, finally, at university I thought I had found a way to move away from all of that: self love, self care; looking after my body for the first time in forever. I had thought ‘healthy eating’ was the answer. And at first it was. Choosing foods deemed ‘healthy’, deemed good, made food seem ‘okay’ again. But the more interested I became; the more I researched, browsed and learnt, the more food items became ‘off-limits’. I began to eat less and less; my ‘yes’ list becoming smaller until only things like lettuce could be eaten without a full blown panic attack (I exaggerate slightly, water was okay too). And soon I was back to, if not worse, than before. Still after this idea of perfection.
Because there are so many ideas about the ‘perfect’ foods; the perfect diet to make the perfect you. And those conflicting ideas, those strong opinions, ‘facts’, cause so many more problems than they aim to solve.
We are constantly bombarded with the idea of ‘clean’ eating. But what does this even mean? That there are ‘dirty’ foods, bad foods? How did eating become a moral thing? Something right or wrong? Make you a bad person? Because I’m pretty sure that eating a pizza does not make you a bad person. There are a number of things that define evil, but eating pizza? Not one of them.
So how do we get past this idea when it is so constantly thrown at us?
I think the main question we have to ask is where is this coming from? Because if your diet (a word I loathe; diet is synonymous with restriction in my book) is being fuelled by self-hate it’s only going to create more of that. If change comes from hate you are sending a message to yourself saying you aren’t enough, which is a feeling (no matter how shrunken your tummy may get) that will still stay. Change needs to come from a place of love: veganism, because compassion for animals not as an excuse to cut out another food group. Exercise, because how awesome does it feel to lift your own body weight, not as punishment for the chocolate you ate earlier. Positively breeds positivity, it’s like riding a bike or driving a car, at first it’s hard and takes a lot of focus, but eventually it becomes something so natural you can do it without thinking . You have to create new habits. New ‘I love me’ habits.
To me, healthy means happy. It means feeling strong and full of energy. It means choosing life, choosing food. It means nourishing myself physically and emotionally. No tracking macros or being concerned that my banana chips might have too much sugar in them. No low this / high that. Just balance, and intuition and a million contradictions. To me healthy is about being confident in me; trusting me.
And maybe your healthy looks a little different. And you know what? That’s okay. I just hope you decide to scrap the ideals in favour of truly listening to you #yougotthis.