Is “health,” not weight, the obsession?

HealthBlogIFDSometimes, weight is not the issue.

(Although it more often than not IS the issue, even when we think it’s not — I’ve had several clients tell me they’re totally comfortable with their bodies and are “just obsessed with food,” but upon further prodding, admit that they would rather break a leg than gain 10lbs. I have never had a client who was truly un-concerned with weight.)

That being said, there is no doubt that non-weight-related anxieties around food are ALSO quite real.  

There was a time in my life when eating farm-raised salmon would cause me to toss and turn in my bed at night, worrying about the various cancers I had *DEFINITELY CAUSED MYSELF* by eating fish that was raised in a cesspool.

And I feel slightly guilty writing that lest it add another item to your list of scary foods — just so you know, that is not my reaction to farm-raised salmon today.  While I don’t go out of my way to buy it, it no longer causes me anxiety or feels like a make or break concern in situations that are not easily within my control.

because sometimes,
farm-raised salmon,
or non-organic dairy,
or something with too much sugar in it,
is just gonna happen…

(unless I want to be a completely stressed-out control freak all the time, which is also really bad for my health and well-being, not to mention my general happiness).  

Now I’ve had to work to overcome anxieties around “health” (and to be clear, this is absolutely a form of anxiety — many health professionals liken it to a form of OCD), but I want to encourage anyone struggling with “feeling crazy around health,” to start by expanding your definition of “health,” to include mental well-being, rather than physical well-being alone.

Your mental health and happiness are just as much a part of your overall health and wellness, as the physical state of your body; when I started taking my mental health into consideration in my decision making process around food, things got a lot easier.

I mean, isn’t the whole point of being healthy so that we can enjoy life longer and with less strain? If my health decisions compromise my sanity and/or enjoyment of life, doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of pursuing physical health to begin with?

While I personally value “physical health” in ways that I define for myself (and btw, not a moral issue, or social obligation), I’ve also made the decision that my sanity always comes first there is no food I could eat that would be more poisonous to my overall well-being than the chronic stress and anxiety, or social isolation that too often comes with feeling crazy around food.

What if we considered our mental health and happiness as fully in our decision making process around food as we did its physical outcomes? What if we looked at health from a truly holistic perspective, wherein our physical health supports our aliveness, rather than the other way around?

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