What is Health?

On February 27 I taught a basic nutrition class to a group of senior high school girls. I was contacted about the class in the beginning of February. I met with the teacher on February 9. When it came down to scheduling a date for the class, I was expecting her to say sometime in March. Nope! My options were the 20th, 22nd, or 27th. Inside I almost died.

The month of February was extremely busy for me: preparing my twelve accounts for nutrition month on top of transporting my daughter from our house to my parents’ house – in rush hour traffic: forty minutes away – then picking her up and driving home for forty minutes in rush hour traffic; on average we have been making it home around 6:00 in the evening when there is still dinner to be made, a bath to be had, and plenty of mess to clean up (my house was never truly clean throughout February – which did not help my sanity).

I didn’t feel like I could tell her No, that is not enough time to prepare for an 80-minute presentation, after we already had a very exciting conversation about what the content of the class could consist of. And, I did need this in my life. I really do enjoy giving group talks.

So I scheduled as far away as I could. In the truly professional world, I probably should not have taken this on given the timing. I should have been prepared going into this meeting with a timeframe in mind that is appropriate for me to prepare a class. I suppose that’s how life goes though. For me, once I agreed on a date there was definitely no going back and I was committed to coming up with a great class.

My initial preparations for a talk always begin with lots of research and nonstop thought. The plan was to give a basic nutrition class as the girls only have basic knowledge of nutrition. What is basic nutrition? What do we really need, what is actually healthy? I came across a couple other dietitians’ blogs in the US who had differing beliefs on what is healthy. One believes in fasting, eating vegan, eating mostly raw food, and avoiding any sort of processing as best she can. Another believes we need lots of protein, lots of fat, and carbs are good, but get them from fruits and vegetables: not grain-based foods.

I watched several documentaries. Some great, some not so much.

It is clear that everyone is different – even dietitians!

Every single one of us has a unique belief system, lifestyle, culture, personality, so on and so forth. There is absolutely no black and white in the world of nutrition. There is absolutely no such thing as one size fits all. So when your best friend begins to tell you about this new diet you need to try, listen first before diving in.

The word diet has several definitions. Many dietitians, including me, claim we don’t believe in diets, which is true to an extent. In general, as I don’t feel I should or can speak for everyone, dietitians do not believe in an eating regimen that is meant to cure within one week every harm you have ever knowingly or unknowingly done to your body. We don’t believe in an eating regimen that is meant to be tossed out after some time (this is what we see how the general public understands the term diet). We believe in a way of eating that lasts a lifetime and treats not just your body, but also your mind and soul with the utmost tender loving care. We believe in forming solid, positive habits and discipline, and knowledge about the food you eat so that eating well becomes natural to you. Eating well, to me, means eating without worry, fear, and concern.

However, after my research and coming across several dietitians with different perspectives on healthy eating; it was obvious, we are all promoting a different eating pattern – aka: diet. Therefore, it is no wonder why the general public says: I need to go on a diet when they feel it is important to get healthier. Also, provided everyone is different and needs different things, each person should ideally be following a specific type of diet.

Dietitians do believe in diets. We don’t believe in quick fixes.

An example of a quick fix is something to toss out when you’ve accomplished a goal; something that will not stay permanent in your life. Our dietary advice reflects what we believe in, in addition to what is scientifically proven (but even that is a whole other story).

I recently pinpointed my current passion. It is simply: quality of life for as long as possible. That means my main focus is not just food, though food is a very, very interesting part of the puzzle! Quality of life is everything that goes into having a fabulous life: health, happiness, success…
I want stories to share with my loved ones! How about you??

I like to ask this question often: What is health to you? Health can be another loosely used term. If I am to say to you, “I want to get healthy” what thoughts pop into your head?

Here is a valuable starting point from the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

Definition of health

1a : the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit

  • She is the picture of health.

;especially : freedom from physical disease or pain

  • nursed them back to health

b : the general condition of the body

  • How is your mother’s health?
  • in poor health
  • enjoys good health

2a : a condition in which someone or something is thriving or doing well : well-being

  • defending the healthof the beloved oceans
  • —Peter Wilkinson

b : general condition or state

  • poor economic health

3: a toast to someone’s health or prosperity

Ponder these definitions for a few moments and how they apply to you, every person you come into contact with, your environment – nearby and far away…

For me, when I think about health, I consider how much positive influence my good health can have on the world. I think many of us are pretty concerned for the state of health our world is in, i.e. school shootings (very unfortunately the first thing that comes to mind), climate change, economy…
Think of the chain reactions that occur when you are – or someone else isin a genuinely good or bad mood.

Therefore I feel if you want to get healthy, it is important to consider every part of your life that can benefit from that. Nutrition is one part, but also involved is your mental state: your behavior and intelligence; financial wellness (this has become a bit of a buzz word in the past few years), and your spirituality, or as I see it: your connection to nature, the world around you, things you can’t see with your eyes but may feel with your heart and soul. How can you give your best to yourself and the world every day? I believe in world peace. Nothing is impossible.

In addition to asking you what health means to you as you desire health, I also ask: why? Why do you want to be healthy? Why should you be healthy? Why does it matter to you? Why, why, why?

I am a details person, can you tell?

These are important questions to consider though. Being healthy is a process that must be learned, and practiced every day.

I would love to know your thoughts about what health means to you.
Please share your comments!

I am following up on this post with basic nutrition info soon. I think we all get so caught up on what foods are great for what, and how not to eat, we forget to consider the fundamentals and why they are so important! Stay tuned!!

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