I think we’ve all felt the urge to change some of our eating habits because we start feeling lethargic or bloated. We may change our Sunday night pizza for a stirfry or have a few less alcoholic drinks each week. However, for a large group of people, being ‘healthy’ becomes an obsession to the point where almonds have to be counted, menu’s have to researched and nothing comes before exercise.
Our society appears to have normalized these behaviors which is sad and concerning, as this is far from normal. I think we so often forget the meaning of health as being a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Health is more than physical wellness
Yes we are healthy when we are physically well. But we are also healthy when …
We go out with friends and have a good laugh,
We enjoy icecream on a warm day,
We have access to services,
We rest and sleep well.
From what I see when engaging with my clients, following a certain diet or set way of eating causes considerable amounts of stress, which is more detrimental to their health than any other factor.
Stress = Poor health
So whatever is adding to your stress, whether it be not getting enough sleep, not enjoying food with friends, trying to fit exercise into a packed day, these behaviours are negatively affecting your health.
Consider, has your striving for one form of health stripped you from health as a whole? What things are you missing out on? What does health really mean to you? What would it look like to focus on your emotional and social health in addition to your physical health?
Signs that you have misinterpreted health
- You are very rigid in your food choices
- You don’t allow yourself to eat foods outside of your plan
- You are into ‘clean’ eating
- You have cut out a number of foods
- You feel guilt, shame or panic when unable to eat planned foods
- You compulsively check labels or ingredients on foods
- You spend the majority of your day thinking about food and exercise
- You log calories/macronutrients or weigh/measure food
- You are anxious if you aren’t able to exercise
- You rarely go out to eat because you don’t want to eat something different
If you found yourself nodding along to this list, know that there is help available. It is not your fault that you have fallen into the ‘health halo’ trap. There are always many factors at play.
We live in an image focused society that puts an emphasis on the external rather than what is going on inside. This makes it easy for us to have the appearance of health, and lets this pattern of disordered eating slip by unnoticed. However, it is a serious condition and has similar health consequences to that of Anorexia Nervosa, namely lowered immune function and cognition, heart disease, anxiety and stress, social isolation, infertility, ostepoporosis and kidney failure.
If you or someone that you know struggles with disordered eating including experiencing some of the difficulties in your relationship with food as noted in the list above, please seek professional treatment. With support from an apropriately qualified and experienced professional, you can change your relationship with food and become reconnected with a full picture of healthy living. The clinicians at The Talbot Centre can assist you to achieve this goal or can assist you to link in with local services if required.