I came across this article on the Guardian this morning and it really struck a chord with me. I loved it, agreed with it, laughed with it, scoffed at it, had moments of cringing self-realisation, felt angry and sad and also empowered, all in the space of a few paragraphs.
The article raises important issues surrounding the 'eatclean' and 'healthy' 'fitspo' realm, and rather than me summarise it, I'd suggest you give it a read yourself.
What I want to do here is share what, for me, 'health' is about.
Health for me is standing up to the food giants and supermarkets with their misleading advertising and hoodwinking marketing campaigns we as consumers are bombarded with to make us eat shit.
Health in my eyes doesn't dictate that a photo with over 100 likes on Instagram is the 'correct' way to eat, it isn't about being a size 8, being able to deadlift or sprint or curl. It isn't about calorie counting or fad diets or deprivation.
It is having faith and belief in ourselves that we can look after us, number one, from the inside out.
It's teaching people that processed food is incredibly, horrendously bad for us and it's only looked upon as extreme if you don't eat it as processed foods have become so engrained in our lives. It's about educating people that food is fuel - not macros necessarily, although I do track these loosely in an attempt to get leaner; a personal choice and goal of mine.
It isn't about being branded not 'clean' if you aren't a vegan. It isn't about pursing your lips if one of your 'healthy' Instagram buddies posts a picture of a bottle of prosecco and pizza...
Instagram, when used in the right way, can connect, strengthen and unite a community of people who want to live better and don't want to settle for what huge food companies stuff down our throats (literally). But when used in the wrong way it's a dangerous tool that's essentially a breeding ground for low self-esteem and disordered eating. It can mess up your relationship with food even more.
Health is personal to everyone. Everyone has different goals, aspirations, medical conditions. But ultimately what the majority of people need, I think, are lessons in how to eat, what to eat, and why. Yep, back to school for all of us.
I'd suggest reading 'Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us' by Michael Moss, as a starting point- it's insightful and shocking and changed how I viewed food completely. Secondly, read Kris Carr's book Crazy Sexy Diet - it was the first health book I ever read and is one of my all time favourite books: truthful, inspirational, memorable.
To me being healthy offers a sense of empowerment - choosing what to put in your body ("you're either feeding disease or fighting it.."), and that's what I love about the movement into mainstream.
Yes, I may be sipping on a vegan protein shake post-gym as we speak (pea protein, cacao powder, almond milk and date syrup FYI instagrammers), but I'm also heading out for Turkish food tomorrow and then have a long weekend in the South of France where I plan to drink lots of wine, eat cheese and be happy (and run the Nice 10k). For me, my health is all about balance. Namaste.