When Too Healthy, Isn't Healthy

Well, it's been a minute. It was a busy summer and it's still full-speed ahead as we get into fall. I wrote this post a couple weeks ago and it's just been sitting pretty in draft status. For no real reason at all, other than I just wasn't ready to hit "publish".

But as I see Instagram spiral into "healthy" rabbit holes, I wanted to speak what's been on my mind. So like, YOLO right? (You only live once mom...)

Sometimes, too much of a good thing isn't a good thing at all.

We practice moderation, but sometimes even our moderation needs to be moderated.

I remember back in the prehistoric days of "clean eating" when we didn't eat solely gluten-free this or grain-free that.

When dairy wasn't the devil, but rather celebrated for being delicious.

When gluten was something no one cared about, and the only people who avoided it had a legitimate medical condition.

When we ate a salad here and there but didn't live off of them.

When every possible vegetable and pricey supplement didn't make it's way into a smoothie.

When eating dessert, having a glass of wine, or downing a cheeseburger (of, holyshit, not-grass-fed meat) wasn't followed by a "#cheatday". 

Ahhhh.

NOSTALGIA.

I remember, when I was training for my first marathon in 2011, the idea of nutrition was suddenly presented to me. Prior to training for an endurance event, I ate a massive and delicious sandwich from a local spot (Focaccia), every single day with a bag of chips and a Diet Coke (turkey, smoked gouda, greens, balsamic, toasted on a wheat roll in case you're wondering).

I ate "well" by my own personal standards - boyfriend introduced me to smoothies in the AM or I'd have bowl of cereal or a Greek Yogurt with granola and fruit. Maybe some almond butter banana toast as a snack, maybe a sandwich with a side salad at lunch, an energy bar in the afternoon and then a sensible dinner. 

I didn't nitpick every goddamn ingredient that I was consuming. If I had bread or grains at one meal, they weren't suddenly off limits for the rest of the day. I was never "starving". I ate when I was hungry and stopped when I was satisfied. I still do. 

Yet I see more and more people getting sucked into the idea of the "ingredient perfection" mentality. There's actually a term for that, it's called Orthorexia. It's "obsessive behavior in pursuit of a healthy diet." 

And I'm calling myself out right now for having been there, albeit for a short period of time before I got some sense knocked into me. Would I die if I didn't eat the most perfect quality of foods 24/7 like the "wellness gurus" do?

Now before we go any further, I'm not a doctor, I have zero qualifications and I'm not attempting to give you medical advice. A simple Google search can give you this information. I'm not trying to tell you how to eat or what to eat or anything of the like.

Let's be clear.

There's also a whole slew of other things that have surfaced as this "wellness movement" has grown legs and taken the F off, specifically on digital publishers' sites and on social media. Calorie counting, eliminating entire nutrient groups from one's diet, shilling out HUNDREDS for supplements not actually regulated or legit, and the "...If they ate it and posted it on Instagram, maybe I should too..." mind-set.

Wrong.

You don't need to eat the way you perceive someone else does. Ever. What works for them probably doesn't work for you. What works for me probably doesn't work for you. Instagram is, in actuality, probably 10% of a person's actual life or consumption. I will promise you I post a fraction of what I am actually eating, or what I am actually doing. Because I'm busy doing it, eating it, and experiencing it.

People post what they want you to see, just like you do on your own feed. Just because someone else ate or didn't eat this or that and has a bajillion followers doesn't necessarily make it healthy, doesn't necessarily make he/she an expert, and doesn't necessarily mean... anything. Seriously. It's a social media post.

And before we go any further, people offer advice and opinions all the time on what's healthy, and what's not. It works for them. You can listen to it, take it to heart, or ignore it completely. But I urge you to consider the qualifications.

Are they a doctor, nurse, or Registered Dietitian? Yes? LISTEN. The amount of schooling and education they have to go through to get that title isn't a joke. 

Are they a wellness or fitness enthusiast? Yes? Maybe take that with a grain of salt. I'm not discounting anyone's opinion, but when it comes to doling out health advice, consider the credentials.

I currently eat whole foods that fuel my body and don't make me feel like shit as much as I possibly can. Simple as that. I believe you should to. But do what you want.

As the kids say, do you.

I also eat dessert (dark chocolate every single day) and well, I really like wine.

You shouldn't ever be proud of yourself for going to sleep hungry (you'll sleep terribly- this happened to me one time when I was jetlagged in London and it ended with a Luna Bar at like 3am - I'm not sure if it was 3am London time or PST but there you go), and you shouldn't ever eliminate entire macronutrients from your diet unless told so by an actual medical professional. 

But again, it's easy to get sucked in. I've been there.

I used to buy into the idea that gluten was essentially the 5th circle of hell.

That dairy would make you miserable.

That carbs should be limited in order to live a healthy life. 

Because it on the internet, so it was definitely true, right? 

SO NAIVE KRISTINE.

I eat a diet naturally low in gluten, but I eat it (HELLO PIZZA NIGHT). Smitten Ice Cream and burrata cheese are two of my favorite things. Grains? I'd be a real hangry bitch without 'em. Not to mention my athletic performance would majorly suffer.

I eat real foods with real ingredients. That don't use chemicals or processed things. But if I happen to down something that does? That's cool too. 

I lived until age 17 without consuming a single salad or vegetable of any kind (truth), I'm fairly certain some Cheez-It's here and there won't actually kill me. (Or they will and you can just tell me... told ya so.)

My message to you, reading this, is that no, you do not need to buy into every single health trend you see on the internet. You do not need to stress over it or fill your brain with the idea that more more more is always better. You do not need to feel like you're constantly trying to keep up or comparing yourself with people you don't even know and probably never will.

You know what's healthy.

You know what's not.

You learned that growing up, when your parents told you to, "Eat your broccoli" and, "No you can't have ice cream for breakfast".

You know you should probably try to move every day.

You do you. (Damnit millenials, you do know a thing or two.)