Most of us can agree that health is one of the most priceless gifts in life. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important for longevity and for enjoying life to its fullest potential. But what exactly needs to be involved in staying “healthy”?
Sadly, many people today are overwhelmed with conflicting information about how to achieve health. The crux of this information overload often has to do with eating: how to eat, what to eat, types of diets to follow, and more.
Among millennials, surveys have found that almost 80 percent of adults under the age of 36 reported that they “could be healthier” . Nearly half of Americans believe that weight-related issues are the direct result of a poor diet and lack of exercise alone, rather than a combination of environmental, genetic and social issues . This belief drives millions of Americans each year to extreme dieting behaviors and weight loss products, with the dieting industry generating multi-billions of dollars every year.
Is Your Healthy Lifestyle Negatively Affecting Your Life?
While making efforts to improve health are certainly important, it’s necessary to keep the bigger picture in mind. Many behaviors might be enticing in the name of health, but how might it be impacting all aspects of your life?
There are many lifestyle recommendations that might be followed to improve your health, such as making changes to your diet or exercise routine. If you find yourself stressed by a rigid set of unrealistic rules, then your healthy lifestyle might be causing more harm than good.
Dietary changes, in particular, are encouraged for creating a “healthier” lifestyle, but many of these recommendations can ultimately be a diet in disguise. Chronic dieting, in any shape or form, can sabotage your health and your happiness. The important thing is to be aware of the behaviors you might be engaging in to determine if your lifestyle is truly healthy or not.
Here are five signs that your healthy eating lifestyle may not be so healthy after all:
- Rigid food rules are taking up your mental space: A healthy lifestyle should be one that allows you to honor your body and eat all the foods you need to stay nourished. If your headspace is preoccupied with rigid food rules of what you should and shouldn’t be eating, then you are likely wasting your precious time and energy.
- You’re eating alone or avoiding social functions: If your eating behaviors make you worried about eating in front of other people, or if you are missing out on social events because food is involved, this should be a cause for concern. Sharing food with those we love and enjoy is part of a healthy lifestyle and not something that should be avoided.
- You’re becoming obsessive with tracking nutrition info: Many diets might recommend that you log everything you eat or track your food intake. While this might be helpful for some in certain situations, it is not normal to become obsessive about nutrition information. This is ultimately drawing you away from listening to and trusting your own body as the guide for what you need.
- You’re cutting out entire food groups: To live and thrive, our bodies require the most basic building blocks from food, including carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. If you’re following an eating plan that recommends you cut out an entire food group from your diet, this should be a major red flag. Cutting out or restricting certain foods or food groups will create chaos around eating.
- You feel guilty if you “messed up”: Many diets are filled with arbitrary food rules that are almost impossible to keep up with or maintain for the long-term. If you feel frustrated or guilty when you aren’t able to meet the standard of your eating plan, then you are likely experiencing more angst and stress from unrealistic food rules. Food should never be black and white, and food should be enjoyable, not shameful.
Redefining a Healthy Lifestyle
It is entirely possible to live a healthy lifestyle without dieting or following a set of rigid food rules, In fact, having a more peaceful relationship with food and honoring your body with adequate nutrition will be more impactful for your overall mental and physical health than any other diet out there.
Creating a truly healthy eating lifestyle begins with redefining what health means. Health is more than just the food we eat. Our health will be influenced by many other different factors, such as how we handle and deal with stress, access to regular food and healthcare, supportive relationships, and mental and emotional wellness. While the diet industry may water down health to weight or dieting, it is important to keep the broader picture in mind as you navigate what health looks like in your own life.
If you are worried about your eating patterns or are concerned that your eating lifestyle has become too rigid, know that there are many resources available to help you. At The Meadows Ranch, we offer comprehensive support and treatment to help you make peace with food and your body. No matter what your journey has been, you deserve to start living freely today.
References:: Statista, “U.S. Diets and Weight Loss – Statistics & Facts”, https://www.statista.com/topics/4392/diets-and-weight-loss-in-the-us/ Accessed 28 February 2019