Health is not a green smoothie, a slim body or being super fit.

16th August, 2017

We cannot assess a person’s health based only on how they look or what they eat.

So what is health or being healthy?

Health is a continuum, not something you achieve and then have forever, it is not a destination you reach.

Your health encompasses your physiology, your psychology, your emotional state and your social connection to other humans. Each of these are influenced by access to basic human needs such as food, water, rest, shelter, clothing, safety and social connection.

Health can, and does, look very different for different people. While some people experience a good amount of health throughout their life, there are others who endure a lifelong struggle with certain aspects of their health.

  • You can have a chronic disease such as diabetes and enjoy health
  • You can have a physical disability or a mental health issue and have health
  • You can be in a large body, medium size body or small body and have health
  • You can eat all food, including chips, chocolate and ice-cream and have health

The “perfect” diet, losing weight or being super fit are not a guarantee against poor health, or a guarantee for achieving lifelong health. You can be doing all these and still suffer poor physical, mental, social or emotional health.

Equally, you can have what looks on paper to be a less than nutritionally sound diet and experience really good physical, mental, social and emotional health.

I’m not saying green smoothies, a slim body or being super fit are not healthy – if you enjoy these things and they add to your quality of life, then go for it – I’m just wanting to make the point they are not necessary to experience health and in some people the pursuit of the “perfect” diet, weight loss or a high level of fitness can actually cause health problems. Clinically, I have seen many people suffer physical, mental and emotional problems through these pursuits. If you have ever felt worse about yourself or found your eating becoming more disordered after a period of dieting, intense exercise or weight loss (or gain), then you have an idea of what I mean.

We must stop oversimplifying health to be about the physical or appearance. We must stop doing this, because for many, the pursuit of physical health sold to us via social media and our culture at large, not only serves to erode many people’s health, but is actually unattainable for most people due to the many key non-physical health determinants.