Fair warning: This morning’s topic is something I’ve been needing to get off my chest, so today’s post will be much more soapbox-y than most. Caveat emptor! 😉
Maybe it’s just me, but have you noticed recently that HEALTHY has become an ugly buzzword? People toss it around to mean anything they want it to mean: low-fat, low-carb, fat-free, “diet,” “light,” sugar-free, “all-natural,” etc.
Don’t get me wrong: I believe that every single person on this planet has the right to decide what is “healthy” for his or her diet (i.e. food and nutritional plan of action) and lifestyle. Conversely, I also believe that there are loose standards of health and nutrition that the vast majority of people don’t meet. Frankly, I don’t think Americans in general know that — barring special circumstances, such as lactose intolerance or severe allergies — their nutritional needs can be met through nature’s abundance. That is to say, a well-balanced diet and regular exercise can maintain health and longevity for most people.* Of course, there are people who can’t get everything they need from nature, and require non-natural, synthesized medicines; for example, I take an anticonvulsant twice a day to prevent grand mal seizures.
Anyway, I digress. The point of today’s post is to discuss how misshapen the word “healthy” has become. I see people all around me on the daily posting photos on Instagram and Twitter of their so-called healthy meals. Most of the time, these meals consist of bite-sized portions of something green, a mouse’s fair share of a protein source, and absolutely nothing with carbs. The caption will usually read something along the lines of, “Tonight’s healthy dinner!!” followed by twenty or thirty obnoxious hashtags: #food #healthy #eathealthy #eatclean #cleaneating #getfit #mydinner #myhealthylife #weightloss #fatfree #under300calories #lowcarb #foodporn #imstarving #helpme
Now, let me just add this caveat to my bitching: I am absolutely just as guilty as these offenders of posting pictures of far too many meals with said hashtags adorning them. I fully realized when I brainstormed this post that I would probably come off sounding like the biggest hypocrite.
I didn’t know I was going to eat my own words for breakfast!
What bothers me about people’s Instagrams and tweets is not the picture itself, or even the pious words beneath: it’s the fact that many of the women I know personally and follow on social media are either proud of or unaware of the fact that they may be depriving themselves of what their bodies need in the pursuit of being “healthy.”
Now hear this, ladies: “Healthy” does not always equate with fat-free, low-fat, or low-carb. While humans’ bodies can sustain themselves on fats and proteins and the body does not actually need carbohydrates to function, those who exercise frequently will require carbs. Weight loss has to come from somewhere, and that usually means converting whatever the body has taken in into energy: burned calories. If all I had eaten today was a piece of toast, yogurt, and a salad, I wouldn’t wonder why I felt weak and exhausted after a 45-minute cardio workout. Add some damn carbs to that plate!
No matter who you are and no matter your choice of lifestyle or diet, the human body requires sufficient energy to do the work you ask of it. If inadequately fueled, the body will conserve its fat reserves and its energy sources instead of burning them off or converting fat to muscle. If the body is repeatedly deprived of sufficient fuel, it will begin to weaken and break down significant muscles and tissues, such as the heart.
I’m all for weight-loss programs and true clean-eating. I’m all for prominently displaying results and lifestyle changes. I’m all for self-pride and the acceptance that no matter how hard I work, there will be someone else out there who is doing it faster, harder, and more diligently. I’m okay with all of this, because I’m okay with who I am, how I choose to live, and the lifestyle I believe to be healthy for me.
It may seem as if I’m ranting and raving because I’m subconsciously insecure about my eating habits, or I feel overshadowed by others’ weight loss successes, or because I’m a tremendously snooty know-it-all, or some other Freudian interpretation. Quite the contrary, my blends. I am more secure in my body, in my lifestyle, and in my personal choices than I have ever been. I feel just as comfortable concocting a quinoa bowl as I do in chowing down on some Coldstone. I feel every bit as secure eating a gigantic salad as I do munching on kettle corn or Red Hot Blues and guac.
My overarching point is this: To each her/his own. With my blog, my social media outlets, and my soapboxes about “healthy” eating, I never mean to cause anyone discomfort or make people feel bad about how they treat their bodies. My personal belief is simply as God has instructed me: my body is a temple. I am to worship it and to treat it with the utmost respect, because it’s the only physical vehicle I’m going to get on this earth. If it’s well-rested, properly fueled, and exercised appropriately, that’s about the best I can do by the old bod.
If I’m making those around me feel as agitated and turned-off as some of these “health” nuts have made me feel recently, then I am more committed than ever to leading by example and to not thrusting my beliefs in people’s faces. I aspire to inspire. My mantra regarding social media is this, and to this end I do lead by example: if you don’t like what I have to say, don’t follow me. It’s as simple as that!
All that said, I truly welcome your comments, questions, suggestions, and even challenges on today’s (and any) post!
(*I am not a Registered Dietitian, personal trainer, life coach, prophet, or Omniscient Eye. All opinions stated in this blog are strictly my own and are based on personal experiences and research. For complete dietary intake, nutritional, and supplementary needs, you should consult a physician or other professional.)