When healthy really isn’t.

When thinking about my recent stomach and health issues , there’s something that’s been brought to my attention – and that is my attitudes and mentalities about what a “healthy diet” constitutes.

Up until now, I think my view of what a healthy diet should be coincides with a lot of people’s these days. I believe in eating real foods that are as unprocessed as possible. I believe in limiting sugar and saturated fats – leaving them in the “treats” section of the food pyramid and focusing on whole grains, fruit and veggies as the base of my diet. I am a propagator of a vegetarian, meat-free diet – both for environmental and health purposes.  With these kind of views on healthy eating, I always thought I was doing the right thing – both for my health and my body. I think most of you will agree with me when I say there’s nothing too drastic or overly extreme about my views and opinions. Some might be so far as to call them pretty main stream.

One thing that I am realizing more and more though, is that what is “mainstream” and “common knowlage” doesn’t have to be right. What “healthy” is really varies from person to person, and what works for someone , might not work for someone else.  Following a very similar thought patter what you think and believe is healthy for you, might not actually be the case when practiced in  reality.

Up till now I really believed I was doing the right thing for my body. Sure, my portion sizes were generally too small, and I knew I should be eating more – but at least what I was eating was nutritious , right? Well, judging for the way things are, not really.

As I face the reality of getting myself out of the state I’m currently in, I have to accept the fact that I will need to do things that go against my usual view of “healthy”. I will have to let go of some of my beliefs that I clung to as my “absolutes”. I will need to accept the fact that healthy for me right now will probably be different then what healthy would be under other circumstances.

To put a bit of skin on this, here are some examples:

– healthy right now means introducing SOME meat back into my diet, in order to ensure I get the quality protein I need (especially since I’m lactose intolerant). This is probably the hardest for me, as not only am I morally against the idea of eating meat , I don’t enjoy, miss or crave it at all. But I know it’s only for a time so I can get my strength and health back, so I’m willing to try and work through this.

–          Healthy means eating high energy foods – even if that means processed flour and sugar from time to time. Of course nuts, nut butters, juices and smoothies are all healthy alternatives that are becoming staples in my diet, but the fact of the matter is it’s hard to gain weight on just that :P. Plus, I need to let go of any ED, orthorexic mentalities and learn to enjoy food for what it is – just food. There are no such things as “good” or “bad” foods – it’s all in how you treat them

–          Healthy right now means sometimes leaving veggies on my plate in favour of other foods, of eating cereal instead of fruit for snack, choosing pasta over brown rice, drinking juice instead of water. All these things have become almost unthinkable for me, because of how ingrained some of these other habits are. But if I want to progess and move forward, it’s what I have to do.

–          Healthy means eating more dark chocolate then I have in a while, in eating cheese and eggs, in choosing full fat over low fat dairy. Healthy means looking for ways to add more treats into my diet, instead of constantly watching to make sure I don’t go “overboard”. Healthy means snacking as often as I can, in listening to my body over my mind and most of all – letting go. And I think that might be the hardest part of this whole process.

 

What is your view of healthy? Do you agree the term can mean something different for each individual?

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7 comments

  1. Love you dear. You can do this. I agree with you 100%-healthy for you (and I) right now means all of those above. Even if it’s hard. Even if we believe that we are “unhealthy”-for us, healthy means gaining weight and letting go of our eating disorder tendencies. Huge hugs.

  2. I think healthy is different for everyone, depending on what they need, you know? I’m glad you’re not taking a “one size fits all” approach, and you’re doing what you need to do for YOU!

  3. Hey love, I completely agree with you here. For so long in my recovery I was having stomach issues that I couldn’t find a reason for. I was eating what was deemed by society to be healthy like plenty of beans, fruit, little amounts of meat, and plenty of whole foods like wheat bran and such.

    I hasn’t been until recently that I’ve realised my body just simply can’t handle a diet that consists of beans, fruit and wheat. I need meat in my diet. I need to eat it every single day for my own well being. I used to suffer from anaemia but now I don’t have an issue because I eat red meat 3 times a week. I have replaced fruit with veggies as snacks as fruit used to cause me so much pain due to my fructose intolerance. I can still eat berries and bananas though.

    I still bake with sugar and I don’t cut back on the amount I use, I just make sure I don’t go overboard by eating 3 cookies in one sitting. TO some, that might be the norm but I can’t do that without feeling a lot of discomfort physically.

    They say eat plenty of fruit a day but I just simply can’t digest fruit so clearly I am a special case. Society also says that saturated is bad for you when there is actually no direct evidence whatsoever to support that statement. Saturated fat is actually essential to humans. It is man made fats like trans fats that we should completely stay away from.

    You need to figure out what is good for YOUR body. It takes time and a lot of experimentation but your head seems to be moving in the right place and that is so awesome!

    If you’re still having stomach issues, I would highly recommend FODMAPs. There is heaps of info about it on the Internet but I would suggest that you talk to a doctor first before going a head with this elimination diet.

    Take care of yourself, beautiful.

    xxx

  4. Yeah, I’d agree that everybody needs slightly different things. Although I think ultimately we all need the same foods and nutrients to be the healthiest we can. I think healthy eating has become really skewed in the blogworld and some of the best foods for you body are maligned because of various, spurious reasons. Your body needs what it needs and you should honour it.

    I think if you stuggle with disordered eating then being veggie/vegan is not a great starting point for recovery. I didn’t begin to recover until I had no banned foods (including those banned for ethical reasons). It gives you an even playing field, so to speak. I know it’s hard though. I’d try meat when it’s in something with other strong flavours so the meat isn’t too overpowering at first. I found that the easiest to deal with anyway!

    I’ve accepted that meat is the easiest way for me to treat my body well too. I quickly go low on iron when I don’t eat it for extended periods which I do sometimes (mostly because, like you, I don’t particularly like it and not the iron rich, red meats). I find that my body runs best on a bit of lean meat and lots of eggs. You’ll find what works best for you though. You may not need much at all in your diet.

    Hope you are feeling better and good luck with the food experimenting! Let us know how it goes! 🙂

  5. I know perfectly what you mean,Leelu,and I completely agree: Sometimes,what seems to be the healthiest choice is exactly the contrary.
    It all depends on your personal situation,really,and I am proud of you you’re willed to fight for your own good,even if it’s not easy at all.
    I’m always thinking of you & sending you strength & hugs! ❤


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