health·y | adjective | Free from disease or pain¹; showing physical, mental, or emotional well-being¹; in good health
The definition of the word “healthy” can take on many different meanings: the absence of disease, a “good” state of mind and body, or even a desirable size or state.
Today, people use “health” to define their lifestyles, their Instagram themes, and even their choices of bread (“Gluten-free means healthy, right?”)
But what does being healthy really mean?
Health does not equal Value
In a culture where we are praised for kale salads and green juice cleanses, we lose sight of what truly makes up our value as a human being; such as being loving, being accepting, being generous, respecting others despite our differences, lifting others up when they’re down, and so on.
The food you consume and the exercise you participate in add no value to your nature as a person. (And vice versa.)
I’m guilty of posting “healthy” meals on social media but not as many “unhealthy” meals even though I eat those too. Well, mostly because they aren’t as pretty but also because I have been conditioned to believe that it will lessen my value as not only a person but a nutrition student at that. However, that just simply isn’t true.
Healthy choices make you FEEL good
A kale salad does not equal “good” and a chocolate chip cookie does not equal “bad.” Those terms are used by the diet industry to appeal to your morality in order to sell their products (Think Halo Top® ice cream, obvious use of moral persuasion to make you think their product is “good” or “better” for you compared to the competitors).
Instead, think of your choices as not being “good” or “bad” exclusively, but about how those choices make you feel.
Do you feel happy and satisfied when you eat that kale salad? If not, then don’t eat it; if so, go crazy on that Vitamin K. Do you feel happy and satisfied when you eat that chocolate chip cookie? If not, simply don’t eat it; if so, enjoy that delicious cookie!
Making healthy choices should be about what benefits not only your body but also, and most importantly, your mind. Food has many more benefits than just the physical ones, such as improving mood, increasing connectivity with others, broadening knowledge of each others’ cultures, and many more.
“Health” is not the same for everyone
Being “healthy” takes on many subjective views. For one person, it might mean maintaining their absence of preventable diseases and, for another, it might mean being in the best physical shape of their life. The difference is that we each have our own definition of what it means to be “healthy.”
For me, being healthy means, first and foremost, maintaining my mental well-being while simultaneously consciously making steps towards a healthy body (but also forgiving myself for being a human being in a modern society).
It’s easy to neglect your mind when you’re trying be “healthy” because you are so focused on your body. Our minds are very powerful and, as a result, disordered eating and an unhealthy relationship with food can occur. That’s why I think mental health needs to be prioritized along with physical health, something you don’t see “health” and “fitness” accounts talk much about on social media.
If your mind is not in the right place, your body won’t be either.
Think about what “health” means to you. Does it mean drinking less soda, eating more vegetables, or having more positive thoughts and attitudes?
Remember that health does NOT define your value.
You are a valuable and worthy person no matter what your body is going through.
I could expand more on this topic and would love to hear your feedback! What ways do you practice being healthy?