Are you confused about being healthy? I mean, some things are obvious like “Eat your veggies and exercise”, but a lot of things out there leave us wondering, as they should. The easy answer to why being healthy is hard is the lack of time or motivation. Is that really the whole picture? I believe there’s deeper things at play here.
Health information is changing constantly and that is exactly why being healthy is hard. Some people claim they do know the right way, but no one agrees. It is never clear what we are supposed to eat or how we are supposed to exercise. Everyone has opinions on what’s healthy. Shouldn’t it be a common understanding of what promotes health? There shouldn’t be a debate of what is healthy. Health is doing whatever works for an individual that will provide them with nutrients and allow them to move their body a bit. That’s all humans need to thrive.
Headlines from research can cause us to demonize certain foods or even exercise routines due to findings, yet research is still conflicting in results. Let’s take for example, the egg issue. At one time, we were told to not eat eggs. Next, we were told to only eat the whites. Oh, wait, the whole egg is okay! What? This is what we all have to deal with everyday. Who isn’t confused? Health is complex and individualized. It cannot always be studied accurately and most results don’t apply to everyone.
To begin, start by reading What Does Healthy Mean? These are all based on my opinions and ideas. Please do your own research and make your own conclusions as usual.
Why Being Healthy Is Hard
First of all, it’s not your fault.
Two reasons why being healthy is hard: No one agrees and research has conflicting results. Along those same lines, we are:
- Not looking at the whole picture
- Not realizing everyone’s body is different
- Practicing biases with health information
- Putting automatic trust into high power
Not Looking At The Whole Picture
The body’s processes work together as a whole to make the body work. You can’t isolate one variable and study it accurately. Yes, we can certainly find out what something might do and how it’s beneficial or detrimental, but there’s so much that is still unknown. Science is wonderful, don’t get me wrong. I’m pro science. We have gotten so far and found out so much great information. Yet science is being used as a way to create an interesting headline or a scare tactic as well. Just as an example, the “coconut oil is bad” article came out, a lot of people are up in arms about coconut oil. You can read here about why that’s not looking at the whole picture.
What should you do?
- Consider it a red flag if a study tells you to stop eating a certain “real” food.
- Consider the whole picture when a result comes out (or actually read the study).
- Include all vitamins and minerals in the diet by eating real foods.
- Move your body.
Not Realizing Everyone’s Body is Different
Everyone’s body is completely different and we all come from different ancestors and backgrounds. We all may need different types of foods and in different amounts. We can’t take a group of people and study effects when there are SO many other factors changing things. Many nutrition studies use food recall as a testing measure. Is the subject being honest? Probably not. What is this person eating? What kind of exercise are they doing? Did they grow up healthy? How’s their gut health? Are they eating 15 apples too? Are they only actually doing what the study is telling them to? Basically you can’t control all of the variables and nothing applies to everyone. This is why being healthy is hard. We can’t know what’s right until we look at our own bodies and many of us don’t do that quite yet.
Same with exercise as food. There are so many different ways to exercise out there and different people get different results. Some people love running, some people love skiing. Whatever it may be, that’s what works for you. Don’t force yourself to do Tabata workouts because you heard that’s the most effective way to lose weight. I don’t know the answer to that, but take all types into consideration and find what works for you. Personally, walking and yoga work for me, but intense exercise is not my bag.
What should you do?
- Be aware of all the different viewpoints out there and know that it may or may not work for you.
- Experiment and find out what foods and exercises make you feel good. It’s a lifestyle change, make sure you like it a lot.
- Realize that research doesn’t apply to everyone and many variables and lifestyle factors change results
Bias In Health Information
This is my favorite reason to share of why being healthy is so hard. Those of us who don’t have a particular stand or group to fit in find it more difficult to know what the “right” way to be healthy is. When I say right, I mean what they think is right.
The people and papers and websites who interpret the data may have bias in mind. Let’s talk about the “red meat causes cancer” issue. This is just one example of where a headline came out and everyone freaked out. The findings were so small that they are relatively insignificant. This study did not take into account many other factors. Are these factory farmed animals and what else is the person eating? Those who eat tons of hot dogs and bacon are probably eating tons of other garbage foods too. The vegans are jumping for joy thinking they have just another argument for what’s the best way to eat. And now they are searching for every point that agrees with this and ignoring the points that don’t agree (This is a general statement, not everyone is like this). We can’t single out red meat just like we can’t single out anything else. To be fair, the meat-eaters are getting all excited when studies say, “Cholesterol is not a problem anymore!”
It’s all whatever we want it to be. Nobody is right.
There’s a result to fill everyone’s needs.
Putting Trust Into High Power
We’re too lost in trying to catch up with the latest news or fad to try to lose weight to even think about what makes sense. That makes us especially vulnerable to sources of power, such as news, influencers, big food companies, doctors, the government. Not to say that some are giving us beneficial information for the general population and we should be trusting them, right? It’s more to say to be aware of those that are tricking us. I’m not some crazy conspiracy person, I’m just confused also why such different groups are all right.
There are a lot of public figures out there who have ideas of how we are supposed to do things. Vegan, paleo, natural, gluten-free, whatever it is. Who is right? I don’t know, I’m sure every group is right in some way or another. But some are guilty like the rest of us in thinking that one way is right and discounting anything that doesn’t go with their beliefs, because that would make them look silly. This ties in with the bias problem. “I know I’m right because I’m fit and healthy. So listen to me.” Some are truly wanting to share their success and help others. I appreciate that, but be aware of it.
Nutrition studies can be driven by big food companies or even just the headlines. The big industries will pay for people to notice a certain result of a study so they will be more likely to buy their product or not avoid their products. I talked about this in my Shameless Sugar post about how the sugar industry shifted the blame on causing heart disease to fat and the researchers were paid to not focus on the sugar effects at all. Because then who would buy from the huge sugar industry? I mean all processed foods and that is huge. Now, many years later, we are being told this isn’t true. Poor folks who thought they were doing the right thing for a while.
Even if there is a particular result, companies or papers or news sources can choose what they share with us, because how many people actually go in and read the research study?
What should you do?
- Only junk food seems to have heavy advertising, so keep that in mind
- Always be skeptical of huge claims
- Realize that we’re all believing different things and not many are open minded to other ideas
No one agreeing and influences are reasons why being healthy is hard. We need to stop over-exaggerating and believing everything we hear. To make it simple, just eat real food. I don’t know how many times I say that in my blog but it’s important. Eat real food and stop worrying about it. I don’t know what’s right either and I guarantee nobody does. Most people found what works for them and makes them feel good and want to share it with others. It may work for you and it may not. Just know that just because someone disagrees with your health standpoint doesn’t mean they are wrong and you’re right. No one is.
Being healthy is not hard. You just have to ignore the influences and find what works for you.
For more simplifying ideas on health, read Stop Trying To Lose Weight and Living Healthy Without Rules.
Fresh Idea: Being healthy doesn’t have to be hard and it’s not your fault if it is. Find what’s healthy for your own body.
BreannaNovember 6, 2017
Great article Mindy! I agree with everything you said!
Mindy VoetNovember 7, 2017
Thank you 🙂
SuzieOctober 4, 2017
I would say, on top of ‘this food is evil’ headlines, you also want to beware ‘this food is a superfood’ headlines. Coconut oil is no worse for you than any other fat, it’s also not a superfood. Yes, we need to eat fat. No, fat won’t kill us. No, coconut oil won’t cure cancer.
It annoys me that we have such a ‘ahhh, this food is a miracle worker!’ mentality, because it just drives up the prices of some ingredients.
Mindy VoetOctober 4, 2017
You’re right. I agree, that is a good point. The headlines can go either way and make us think something will cure us all.