So, what does healthy actually mean? The issue is that healthy has so many facets: physical, mental and even social all play a part.
The word healthy has been hijacked by so many things. It's been overused in marketing, media and the diet world to the point where the true meaning has been lost. Today we are getting into what I believe is the core of health.
Healthy is not a one thing and done kind of word. It encompasses a wide range of areas. And overall, it's a lot of work. It fluctuates with the times and things you go through. And that's ok.
The Meaning of Healthy
If you search online you can find some origination in what it means to be healthy. The World Health Organization actually defined the word back in 1948. They said that healthy is an overall state between physical, mental and social well being.
It isn't just the absence of disease, it's the equilibrium of all of those three areas coming together to form and overall health.
I have been saying this since I started my business. You'll often hear me saying that health means body and mind, which is why I don't preach that following a specific diet completely works for many people.
If something brings you stress, even if it's something considered necessary to be healthy, then you are losing the health of your mind. Conversely, if you are doing something that makes your mind happy, but isn't healthy for your body, you are losing the physical health aspect.
It's the point when you find a happy balance between the two, and are able to maintain that, when you are working towards ultimate health.
The role of healthy eating
So much of what we see as related to health revolves around eating. Eat Keto, Paleo, Vegan, do intermittent fasting....the list goes on with diets and diet programs.
While I am a huge advocate of eating plants, I am also an advocate of finding the balance between getting in all those whole plants and giving your body whatever else it needs.
We are all different, and something that may work amazing for one person may not work for the other. Including the vegan or plant-based diet. Yep, I said it.
I have recently had to become completely gluten-free for my own health. And with age and things my body is going through, I have found that I need some non plant-based foods to be my best me.
My husband on the other hand, the actual reason we changed our diet to being with, needs to eat mostly plants. He can add some dairy and eggs once in a while when he has a craving or we are out, but overall his health needs plants.
It's been a learning curve as we grow and change, and although I still eat mostly plant-based foods (and continue to create them), when I need something different I am finding it very easy to simply add them to our meals.
Accepting this has helped our overall mental health. Which has helped us move towards overall health. It's a continuum and not something I believe is reached and done with.
Health and exercise
Moving your body is another important part of physical health. As it is with our diet, there is so much pressure to move in a certain way.
But like with eating, we are all different and there is no one way that is best for everyone. Move how you feel is best for you.
Some days you may feel like you want to push yourself more than others, some days you feel like resting. Do what works, listen to your body.
Movement not only helps your physical health, but it also helps your mental health. Especially when it's things like yoga. Yoga has helped me so much! You can listen to the episode on how yoga changed my life to learn more.
The Healthy Continuum
I don't believe any of us ever reach ultimate health. I believe that we simply move closer and closer to the end goal.
Every single day we are met with stressors. Decisions, relationships, what we eat, things we do, illness, emergencies. These all affect our overall health.
So while one day we may feel like we have mastered health, the next day we can feel like we've been hit by a bus.
This is normal and ok. When it comes to our emotional health, the goal is to learn how to react to things in a way that helps keep our health up. It can be learning to prioritize issues, turning towards meditation or exercise to deal with stress, or even finding comfort in our favorite foods.
Eating wholesome nutritious food is definitely a part of overall health. Our bodies need nutrients to function and it's important that we give it to them.
However, allowing ourselves to eat the comfort foods we crave is also important, even if they are not wholesome our nutritious. Doing this can produce happy emotions that in turn help our overall health. It's finding the balance between the two that's key.
How do I know if I am healthy?
Getting regular checkups with your doctor is really important to monitor medical side of health. If something gets off, it can be caught early and dealt with.
What many people don't do however, is get regular checkups with their mental health. I can't recommend therapy, or some form of it, enough. We often only go to therapists when something bad happens.
But much like our general doctor, who we see to check in and make sure all is okay in our body, it's such a great idea to check in with mental health too. There is always something we can work on!
In my opinion, we are in a state of positive movement towards ultimate health when we have taken care of both our body and mind.
Health and Technology
The latest intrusion on our health today is technology. While it has brought us many good things, it has also steeply declined our mental well being.
From social media, to access to inaccurate information, our world has seen higher rates of suicide, body dysmorphic disorder, depression etc. And so many of these are in young children.
It's so important to address this issue. Both with yourself and with your children. Research shows that too much exposure to screens can change a child's brain, and not for the better.
We are also seeing the rise of depression and suicide, particularly in teens and young adults. This is thought to be directly related to screen use and social media.
Strategies to help mental and social health
The good news is that there are things we can do to help. Here are some thing I personally do, and things I plan to do with my kids:
- Take screen breaks
- Take social media breaks
- No screens during family dinners
- Avoid screens during the week for kids and encourage outside play
- Be in charge of your kids devices and check them regularly
- Don't allow social media account until your child is developmentally ready
- If your child is on social media, set time limits
- Follow all your child's social media accounts and check in
While there is no magic pill for overall health, there are many ways that we can work towards it. It's a continuum that we go back and forth on, but as long as overall you are moving more towards the goal than away from it, you are doing a great job!
Don't forget to download my FREE guide for health care tips below!