Today it’s time for me to make a clear distinction. I talk about health quite a bit on this blog. When it comes to policies, personal behavior or societal behavior I usually have a clear opinion on health. I want people to be as healthy as they can be, because I believe that this makes life for all of us better. However, I did not realize that the term healthy is not a very clear term and that some people take the wrong assumptions when I use the term healthy. That’s why I want to clearly elaborate on this today: I am pro healthy but absolutely not pro diet.
A Bigger Cake
You could say: why do you care about the health of everybody else too? Why not focus on yourself? That is a little bit true and it’s not like I go around every day and tell people what they should and shouldn’t do. Not at all. The opposite is true: I would never tell people to quit eating a specific type of food or do a certain exercise. I leave people be.
But I do have this blog and learn a lot because of that. Life is not like a cake: when someone else gains, I lose. No, when someone else gains, I gain. So, when we all do better, I do better. We’re all in this together. That’s why I do have an opinion on this subject. And that’s also why I have shared some documentaries on health too. Like How to get 100 or The Blue Zones for example. Again, I would never tell people what to do. For me those kinds of posts are about inspiration and sharing information. However, I do think we can improve our system drastically so that it’s easy to make healthy choices. Decrease the amount of fast food restaurants in an area for example or offer better food in a canteen, just to name some examples. I want the healthy choice to be the easy choice. That’s why I do care about the health of others too and that’s why I write about health sometimes too.
Now, what is a healthy lifestyle if you ask me? That’s a hard question. But for me health is about adding the good things. Eating more fruit, vegetables, herbs, seaweed and other beneficial foods. Moving around more in the way you’d like to. Getting together with people you like most. It’s never about weight or the way you look. As I said: it’s about adding as much of the good things as we can. I would also advocate for a more holistic look at health. When most people think about health they think of measurements. BMI for example (which is a racist tool btw). Or counting calories. Health is about other things if you’d ask me. Mental health for example. Some people just thrive better all in all when they eat some unhealthy food and sit at home a little more than others. If that’s the better thing for their mental health as well, it’s the better thing to do. If they would be forcing themselves to quit the unhealthy food and go out to exercise more, that would be on the expense of their mental health. In this matter, it’s about balance.
Add more of all the good when you can (take that walk to the train if you feel like it or add those fruits and leafy greens to your meal). The more of the good stuff, the better. So, that’s what I am personally interested in. How can we make the good things accessible?
Here’s the big difference with diets: diets focus on numbers and starvation. It’s not about adding things, it’s about absence. A diet is solely about eating less. It’s about leaving things out. Leaving the chocolate, leaving the car, counting calories. I think that’s a wrong way to approach it. We should all just listen to what our bodies tell us. During COVID-19 I gained about 8 kilos and that was totally fine. When COVID-19 laid down a little in Dutch society, I could feel my body wanting different things again. I actually wanted to work out a little again (in the ways that I love to exercise, playing handball for example). Also, at one point I was really tired of the food I was eating. It took about 1,5 years but I started to crave fruits and salads again. I just listened to my body and what it wanted. Now I feel more energized. Diets are always about starving yourself to look a certain way. If you want to be healthy you’ll just add things instead of leaving all things out. Focus on what makes you feel good instead of on numbers. Focus on adding the good things, not subtracting the bad.
Good vs. Bad
I know that when it comes to health there are always discussions about what’s good for you and what’s not. Today I want to not focus on that part because that’s always a discussion (of course I do have personal opinions on that, but for those things you’d have to read some of my other posts). Today is more about making clear that for me being healthy does not have anything to do with diets for me. I am not pro diet. Never. I think diets are harmful and make us have a negative relationship with food and our bodies. I don’t believe diets work. I am pro healthy, but in a holistic approach. I am anti-diet.