Recently I attended a professional development workshop on mental health. The presenters studied and work in the field of psychology and within education and training. For me, a large foundational part of mental health is ensuring that our physical health – our bodies – are taken care of, supported and nurtured. In my experience, the two go hand-in-hand.
It seems quite strange to me when I see someone who is ‘qualified’ in a physical or mental health field or holds a position of importance or power, yet their body, movements and manner do not show signs of good health and vitality. It highlights there’s a greater problem stemming from our education on the topic, and what we have chosen to accept as true. No matter how much we ‘know’ about a subject, the body always has its own marker and gauge of whether it is working at its optimum vital level and in harmony within all other areas or not. This fact we cannot change.
On the morning of my professional development workshop I had quite a distance to drive in peak hour traffic, so I made sure that I gave myself enough time without rushing. I arrived 15 minutes early and was the first to arrive. I walked in, said hello to the two presenters and went to find a seat.
As I was choosing my seat, unpacking my belongings and setting them up just as I needed them to be for the next 8 hours – placing my drinks, pen, paper, books, computer etc. down – one of the presenters said to me, “Whoa, that’s healthy.” Immediately I knew he was referring to my vegie drink and not my herbal tea or the manner in which I set up my space, simply because it was green in colour.
Initially I felt a little awkward that my choice of drink, which was a normal for me, had been highlighted. So, at the time I smiled and replied “Mmm…” But this comment caused me to pause and got me thinking… I pondered on why his response was a “Whoa.” I recalled that I have come across this reaction quite a few times over the years with ‘healthy’ food and drink choices, either when I myself was making them or when others around me at work or in public were making them.
These types of comments are reactionary to a way of eating or drinking that is not so commonly seen or practised, thus highlighting the person who is looking after their body and consuming nutritious food as being ‘different.’ Immediately I questioned what our societal gauge is being set from. If I had come in with a sausage roll and cream bun, it is likely I would have got no comment, or perhaps one that was in favour of my food choice.
Let’s face it, making supportive food choices that nutritionally support the body is going against a current norm and way of how people commonly choose to eat in society today. We do not eat to nurture or hold our body in harmony – a fact that is shown in the continuing rise of non-communicable illness and disease rates today, such as diabetes.
If it is not common and even considered unusual for people in general to drink or eat something that is good for their bodies to a point that it stands out and gets labelled and highlighted as ‘healthy,’ then how far have we slipped away from what is true and natural for our bodies. I find it interesting that we even have this word ‘healthy’ and don’t just live as our bodies need us to live. It is a clear indicator that we base our living and vocabulary around looking after ourselves from a way that is not conducive to the true vitality of our bodies.
Why do we not seem to question the meals or food people are consuming that are clearly not supportive for the body, yet are very quick to identify those who make more supportive food choices? Imagine if people started speaking on behalf of the vitality of the body by publicly noting to other people, “Whoa, that’s really unhealthy.” I wonder if we would start to think twice about what we are putting in our bodies.
The fact is that more supportive food choices do stand out from the crowd. And this is simply because the norm, the majority, the crowd acceptably choose food that is not supportive to the body. BUT, what if the majority did eat in a way and manner that nourished and vitalised the body, allowing it to run at optimal level?
Why do we even have a perception of what ‘healthy’ is and why is it not just embedded into the way we live?
Our understanding, perception and definition of ‘being healthy’ today is actually only based on and comparable to, the very unhealthy lifestyle – the way the majority of society are choosing to live, eat, indulge in and over consume.
This to me is a type of rot when we look at the extent of the damage it does to our bodies, our perception of health, the pressure it places on our medical system and so on. The illness and disease our bodies are increasingly showing through our health statistics speak loudly of our current global choices… to the point that the definition of health in our English language dictionary is stated as “the state of being free from illness or injury.” (1) Why is health not defined as, “the body working in its true optimal and vital order, each part working in harmony and joy with all others”?
If we all naturally lived from the latter definition as being our norm, then the word ‘health’ and a definition for it would probably not exist, simply because this would just be the way it was. Caring for our bodies would be the norm.
Back to my professional development workshop and the comment from one of the presenters that started this line of pondering and blog . . . if I had the moment again to respond to his “Whoa, that’s healthy”, I probably would have replied –– “only relative to how we live today.”
By Johanna Smith, Ba Education, Diploma of Counselling, Esoteric Practitioner, Perth, Western Australia
1.Oxford Dictionaries | English. (2018). health | Definition of health in English by Oxford Dictionaries. [online] Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/health [Accessed 1 Aug. 2018].
To Nourish or Bludgeon – How do we Use Food?
Living your own medicine
When we understand the body and the different ways we reconnected to either our essences, inner-hearts / Souls (all one and the same) or mind, we start to understand how our Soul connection deepens our full body intelligence and thus the way we approach a health rhythm that becomes our normal.
‘Immediately I knew he was referring to my vegie drink and not my herbal tea or the manner in which I set up my space, simply because it was green in colour.’ What I got from this is how health is so much more than what we eat and drink and whether we exercise or not. How you set up your space here was very caring and supporting you for your day yet currently it would seem that we do not see such things as being healthy!
It’s become normal for me to have comments or be pointed out over what I eat or don’t eat. It’s not a discipline but my whole body saying it won’t eat a certain thing. I feel that what is being called out is far more than a food choice but a comment on the relationship I have with my body that is felt by others.
Living in a way that supports our needs should be taught at schools and also to those who are interested in how our body responds to True nutrition that, which Truly nurtures our bodies.
This blog is confirmation of societies standards that have dropped so low we now have perception which adds another level to our deception cake.
Perhaps, not so long ago, I may have been observed eating something not very nutritious and have then been inspired by another who has made a different choice. The ripple effect.
Absolutely I would agree that everything is interlinked and all of our choices would have an affect on our mental health and well-being including what we eat and drink. You are so right in saying that ‘the body always has its own marker and gauge of whether it is working at its optimum vital level and in harmony within all other areas or not. This fact we cannot change.’
Being unhealthy in our lifestyle choices has brought in an overall demoralization, a lethargy upon society. Because often I get the comments that being healthy is hard work or I am praised for being “very disciplined”. Unhealthy food and choices seem easy when your already in the momentum of making them. The same goes for loving choices, it’s easier once you’re in the momentum of them.
“health in our English language dictionary is stated as “the state of being free from illness or injury.” (1) Why is health not defined as, “the body working in its true optimal and vital order, each part working in harmony and joy with all others”?” My feeling is what the dictionary definition allows is to feel we can live as we are and are “healthy” and able to get away with the constant self abuse and self neglect of our bodies, and then later when something shows up it can be a sense of it being random. If the 2nd definition of vital order and harmony in the body was applied we would have to then question our every choice.
We just need to visit our hospitals and look at the shocking statistics of illness and disease to know our current perception of health is warped.
‘For me, a large foundational part of mental health is ensuring that our physical health – our bodies – are taken care of, supported and nurtured. In my experience, the two go hand-in-hand.’ this is true for me also and has been known for many years and yet is not as widely accepted in society to the point that we have acted on it collectively. Doing so would allow us to take more responsibility for our wellbeing.
The extent of ill health in society and how it impacts the health sector is enormous, looking at it with a birds eye view it is pretty obvious what we are doing and how we are living as a society can not be right.
Looking at photos of people 50 years ago, their bodies in general where a lot fitter then the bodies we have now.
Part of the joy that we live is that what is reflected will be felt by others so no need to respond other than to hold True to everything that is a True Livingness then the reflection others get is all that is needed.
“Why do we even have a perception of what ‘healthy’ is and why is it not just embedded into the way we live?”
Its crazy that something that acts as such foundation for us such as food and drink can be abused in such a way that we eat for anything other than true nourishment.
Crazy that we ignore the basics, for what use is any qualification if our bodies are not healthy?
This is so true, unfortunately many people do not eat to nurture and nourish themselves and their body, ‘We do not eat to nurture or hold our body in harmony – a fact that is shown in the continuing rise of non-communicable illness and disease rates today, such as diabetes.’
In the days when I wasn’t making loving food choices for my body, I can’t remember anyone asking me why I was eating such food, food that ‘was clearly not supportive for the body’. But when I made many changes in my diet to finally honour what my body could or not eat, I was continually singled out and asked why I was eating differently. It struck me as very strange as most knew the struggles I had been having with my digestive system for many years, but because I had chosen to step out of what was the accepted normal for our diet, people seemed to be concerned that I might be harming myself; when in truth, it was the total opposite.
I think it’s great we are having this discussion because so often people are judged by what the rest of society see or feels is uncommon or odd. There is a sort of branding that occurs because you stick out from the rest of the crowd. But as you say if we were all eating sausage rolls and a cream buns no one would notice. So from this I would say the gauge that we set our food standards is very low and it is getting lower. It’s funny how it costs more to buy a salad in a restaurant in the USA than it does to get a burger and chips with a milkshake!
Populations around the world are suffering, the majority no longer look healthy, which begs us to ask the question “what is truly going on?”
I have noticed when out and about how tired people seem and not holding a general vibrancy. We have come to see this as normal and don’t give it much attention… but we should.
Someone may have all the answers and know what it is to be healthy, but if they’re not living it to some degree, I know there is something big missing and what they say maybe spot on with regard to knowledge but what’s needed isn’t fully there. It’s from someone living health in all areas of life that I learn what being healthy is.
I have received comments from colleagues about the food I take to work or the ways in which I may support myself while at work and it highlights how society has normalised a way of living in which there is an absence of any true self care / self love and as a result coffee, energy drinks and sugary foods are seen as a normal part of the diet in order to get through the day.
‘It seems quite strange to me when I see someone who is ‘qualified’ in a physical or mental health field or holds a position of importance or power, yet their body, movements and manner do not show signs of good health and vitality.’ very true and this can be expanded on to cover our entire systems of education. Even if what is being presented is not directly related to health and wellbeing, if it comes from a body which is not healthy and enjoying life then we are instantly deterred as it not being a way we wish to go. True teaching and education come from a way of living which means that we enjoy every day of life, are fit and healthy and live mainly free of issues. This are the people we can truly listen to and be inspired by.
‘If I had come in with a sausage roll and cream bun, it is likely I would have got no comment, or perhaps one that was in favour of my food choice.’ we go further than this and accept blatant abuse of each other and ourselves and yet being more healthy and truly loving in life is noticed and often ridiculed because it exposes the fact that this is not considered normal.
True health is our natural way of being, the fact that we are surprised when others make such choices just exposes that was has become normal is not natural for us.
When people understand that choices surrounding food and drink are not made from set of rules or a diet but rather from one’s own understanding of their own body suddenly it does not seem so strange as we all do this to some degree already. It’s just that over time, with ongoing refinement this can mean that it can appear very different to those who have not begun to live their life this way yet.
Why does it take illness or disease to evoke food advice from a medical practitioner before we heed their advice? Why don’t we listen to our bodies before medical intervention is required?
This is so awesome, the barometer of health needs to be looked at and re-assessed.
What should be normal is the ab-normal but looked up to and respected.
Yesterday I was listening to a discussion where it was stated that children have a freer life and are better off than they have ever been but the first thing that came to me is that if this is the case then why are we getting higher rates of suicide amongst the young.
Any judgement whether ‘nice’ or ‘mean’ is a judgement and judgement keeps us from taking responsibility for our choices. It also almost always leads to either jealousy, comparison or competition – some of the greatest ills for humanity.
Judgement helps keep us separate; bringing in more and more appreciation for self and others is a wiser choice.
Children know very early what they do and do not like to eat and yet it is easy to observe how it is adults who get them into habits of eating unhealthy food, even if ‘only as a treat’ which the children themselves would not choose.
I have met the yo-yo people who believe they are living and eating healthy and then go off the rails and gorge themselves with unhealthy food that requires them to abuse their body at the gym. Is this how we have evolved and think we are living a healthy lifestyle?
Marketing plays a huge part in what we think is healthy but all the hidden sugar in foods and misdirection would not be in place if we did not turn a blind eye.
Great questions – why is it that doing what ‘should’ be everyone’s normal, stands out in the crowd these days? Could it be that we have been on a sliding scale of self care and self love and what used to be a normal level of care has now become the ‘top of the line’ way to live, an exception and difficult to achieve by most? This is a scary thought, especially whilst we consider ourselves to be advancing as a society with all the technological inventions etc, and yet our self care has slipped so many notches and we have forgotten some basics to sustain us. Perhaps it is time revise what advance actually means in society?
Health is a word that has so many meanings and as you have so beautifully shared here Johanna, in our current world, it will mean whatever you are speaking in relation to such as a healthy green drink being one person’s marker of health, where your marker of healthy was the care and love you had taken to prepare yourself for the day. No wonder there is so much mis-communication and mis-understandings in our world when the words we use have lost their true meaning.
At my work place my healthy lifestyle which includes the way I eat, going to bed by 9pm and getting up early is part of an ongoing questioning from other staff with a perspective that ‘there is something wrong ‘ with me. I live in a way that is loving of my body and still know I can be healthier yet the world sees me as ‘odd’. We have drifted so far from what is natural and caring of our body, our physical and mental wellness and the statistics of illness and disease are reflecting this with increasing obesity and multi-symptoms of ill-health. I am reflecting the norm but it is not accepted as that and this brings up so many questions. Why do people need to be shown or instructed on health when all they need to do is listen to and respond to what their own body is asking for – great blog, thanks Johanna.
“The fact is that more supportive food choices do stand out from the crowd. And this is simply because the norm, the majority, the crowd acceptably choose food that is not supportive to the body” Super sad that as a society so many of us choose to harm ourselves with food.
I feel amazing and look pretty hot too and I know its because I look after myself and eat well, I aint perfect and sometimes I eat not for nutrition but overall I am consistent and with that comes a vitality and love for life that I would never want to give up.
So beautifully shared, I agree that the way we see health is upside down. And that we have really lost the marker of what it is to be healthy and what it is to have a glowing glorious body full of health.
As awareness of smoking and its ill effects has been more widely absorbed I am sure that collectively, at some point in the future, our awareness of eating junk food, prepared meals and sugary foods will also take hold as we will also accept that they too damage our health, and that taste and convenience does not outweigh how we make our body feel.
Yes this will happen and then like with smoking we will try and sort it out without going to the heart of the matter… which looks something like learning to embrace the responsibility we have to love and take care of ourselves like we never have before.
It never ceases to amaze me how we as a humanity can promote all sorts of things without looking in our own backyard to see if we are in fact doing what we are promoting – or not.
It seems we have got into a situation where by we define health by an absence of serious illness and disease and as long as we can get out of bed in the morning and make it through the day we consider ourselves healthy, irrespective of how we felt in that day or how many pills or other treatments we needed to take to get through the day or the quality of life or work we experienced. We need to have another look at this and re-evaluate our definition and our relationship with health and wellbeing.
Well said Andrew – the meaning of health and wellbeing has shifted so far from the truth that we are accepting so much less.
I am always inspired by the loving movements/choices of another and not what another says. Words are empty without a livingness of truth behind them.
So well said Caroline. Words are empty unless they are lived.
If words are not lived in actions and movements they can only carry the energetic intention, imprint and its source.
One’s livingness is felt before it is seen or heard.
True, but interesting to note the significance of that drink. Underneath this choice is a level of self worth and appreciation that allows that choice to be made. Sometimes we make ‘healthy’ choices that derive from a drive and a ‘should’ rather than a place that says I am worth loving. Our mental health is very much based on how far we are willing to go to nurture ourselves in truth and how far we are willing to go to appreciate ourselves and what we naturally bring.
There is a popular slimming, high protein meal replacement in a can that has been around since 1977… that is loaded with artificial sugar! That when it first came out, it was real sugar. There is a lack of high-quality evidence on the effectiveness of this product, but it is still being consumed!
Why do we fool ourselves about trying to live a healthy lifestyle by having a skinny cappuccino or eating a whole bag of salt-free snacks or a glutton and dairy free muffin that is full of sugar?
Because we try to fool ourselves into thinking that we are really improving ourselves and getting better when in reality we are motivated by the same need to avoid living who we are in truth.
You highlight the point very well here, Steve. I was one of those people a few years ago. I kidded myself that because I had veggies or salad with my lunch and dinner I had a healthy diet. I conveniently ignored the copious amount of chocolate, crisps, cake and sugar I ate in between. At the time, I would have insisted that I was fine! It was only when my body showed signs of a problem (hypoglycaemia) that I had to get more honest.
Dull the engine dull the quality of the drive!
There is a big difference between understanding what supports good human health and talking about it and actually living it. The latter is far more inspiring.
A great example of how we like it when we all abide by the unspoken rules of comfort and indulgence and that when one of us steps out of that and chooses differently, feathers get ruffled and the barbs, comments, attacks start. It makes no sense to me that we collude in this way and I appreciate more and more those of us who are prepared to speak up, make different life choices and show that there is a different, more harmonious and truly healthy way to live.
Why do we expect people to take notice of advice and guidance from people who are not living or taking it themselves? It does not make sense.
I often will get people ask me if certain foods such as nuts are ‘healthy’ or not, and I like to be facetious (cheeky) and answer with responses such as ‘it depends – if you are allergic to this food then it is not healthy’…but the reality is that foods that we think are healthy might not be so healthy for some. I prefer to use the term supportive or not and specifically for that person.
Yes I get that supportive has more of a personal quality to it where as healthy is a loaded word that can be more of a fad or proclamation from an industry or government agency. They are useful general guidelines and a great starting point in some cases but fall short of that personalised recipe and observation of what supports each of us and what does not.
When we ask if something is healthy or not we are very much coming from our heads. If we were to consume a certain food and then feel our bodies we would vey quickly know if it is supporting it or dulling it. The thing is, the more we refine our foods in response to our bodies the more our bodies tell us and so what felt healthy to me months ago many no longer be. It is for each individual to discern, in accordance with their own evolution, where their bodies are at and what it can or can’t tolerate. This will be different for all of us.
‘Eating Healthily’ is something that is very much in comparison to or in relation to something else. For example for someone to cut back on drinking alcohol is healthier than for them to continue drinking large amounts. For someone else to increase their vegetable intake and to reduce junk food consumption is healthier and so on and so forth. How we eat and what is ‘healthy’ for one is very much an individual experience, given common sense of course. What is great about this is that we can then be inspired by everyone in terms of what to eat and how to eat for as we grow and evolve our food choices must do likewise to support this gradual change.
Yes I agree whatever terms and definitions we come up with in our minds and however much we intellectualise health and well-being it is our bodies that will and are constantly reflecting to us the true definition of these terms.
I have found that over time as I have been taking more care of my body, honouring the messages I receive from it and reducing the frequency of overriding it, my understanding of what is health and healthy has been deepening. What I used to consider healthy a few years ago does not cut it for me nowadays.
It is definitely our bodies that reflect to us the definition of these terms and in my experience it is a forever deepening relationship.
It’s funny how people don’t really say… ‘whoa that’s unhealthy!’ when they see someone pull out a coffee or a burger or biscuit because it is so common to eat and drink these things.
Yes this a good point. It seems we are expected to justify making healthy choices (not drinking alcohol, loads of sugar etc.) when actually of course it would make more sense if it was the other way around.
Very true Gill, we cannot separate any part of our body or see it in isolation as everything effects everything else.
I agree Doug, a few years ago I had a blood test as was feeling quite tired and so I asked the doctor what was wrong or if there was anything I could do and she said I wish my bloods were as good as yours!
Not caring for our bodies is not only the norm, but also very often championed under the guise of ‘being healthy’, being ‘dedicated’, ‘good’ or ‘responsible’ – e.g. diets that fill our bodies with sugar, or starve them of other nutrients that they need, extreme sports, working too hard for too long, taking on too much.. our bodies love simplicity and routine and when listened to, they work in harmony with and for us, supporting us all the way.
I completely agree Bryony, ‘our bodies love simplicity and routine’ and the more we honour them this way the more we are looked after. I now find when I sense disharmony in my body rather than seeing it as something I need to fix I go ok so what have I been choosing that led me to this and what am I being shown by it, otherwise I just try to fix it and go back to the way I was living that caused it in the 1st place.
Yes it’s interesting to consider that many things that are even considered healthy eg exercise may actually be harmful or detrimental to health if not done in accordance to what each individual persons body actually needs or requires or if done to excessive levels.
Judgement can come at us like a tonne of bricks whether it is at the food choices we make or something else but I am learning to see judgement as a message to offer me understanding of another deepening the love for self.
Yes and we must never judge another for their health choices as it achieves nothing and is usually to cover up our own insecurities regarding our own choices.
‘These types of comments are reactionary to a way of eating or drinking that is not so commonly seen or practiced, thus highlighting the person who is looking after their body and consuming nutritious food as being ‘different.’’ true – in some way making it not normal to make choices like this which stand out as different.
“Our understanding, perception and definition of ‘being healthy’ today is actually only based on and comparable to, the very unhealthy lifestyle – the way the majority of society are choosing to live, eat, indulge in and over consume.” Which is why, when it is suggested that perhaps to live on a diet of mainly green vegetables, fish and lamb there is so often a big reaction, as it exposes how far from the truth so many people are.
Our perception of health is so far off track, as proven by our rising levels of illness and disease, proof that despite our many advances in the 21st Century, we still have not made real progress in taking responsibility for our life style choices that underpin the quality of our health.
Absolutely Gill and this can influence how they respond to what they have noticed too.
It’s interesting that the way we view health is about which boxes we tick rather than our vitality.
We have normalised disregard to such an extent that we only notice it if someone comes along who has worked through it. It is only when we clock that someone is clear of it that we become aware of how we have been living. Even then however we may not want to, so invested in the numbing and distraction from not wanting to feel, that we can dismiss deep self regard and self nurture as weird.
Could you imagine if we saw someone eating something deemed as unhealthy and we pointed that out – “that looks unhealthy” – I wonder what would happen then? The tone of how it was said would determine much of the response I imagine. But the point is more that we note publicly the healthy but not so the unhealthy.
I recently learned that when asked by patients who are diabetic if they can have a sugary drink and biscuits that nursing staff tell them they can because they have no say on what a patient wants or needs. Where are we at in our healthcare when nursing staff can’t suggest eating a diet to support their diabetes’ patients, some of whom are in hospital in the first place because they are recovering from an amputation of a limb? It just doesn’t make any sense to me at all that our healthcare system allows people to continue to self inflict abuse even while recovering in a hospital..
Yes the low fat craze for those wanting to lose weight for example, but if you check the amount of sugar to make the food palatable it s through the roof – crackers!
Crackers anyone? ?
“… making supportive food choices that nutritionally support the body is going against a current norm and way of how people commonly choose to eat in society today.” So no wonder we have an obesity epidemic.
“It seems quite strange to me when I see someone who is ‘qualified’ in a physical or mental health field or holds a position of importance or power, yet their body, movements and manner do not show signs of good health and vitality. ” Yes it’s one thing to have the qualifications but when the body doesn’t tally with those it makes a nonsense of so-called experts in their field.
I agree qualifications are nothing if we do not have love and self-care alongside them in our livingness. I feel we need to make this the importance – our wellbeing, relationship with ourselves and relationship with all others before anything else as what is life if we do not at least have this as our basic foundation.
Recently when my choice of food for lunch became the focus of a conversation I was asked “what are you then?” as if we all fit labels for the way we make our food choices or diets we have chosen. This really stood out to me as I felt no matter what I ate I am me and in fact a true answer could have been “connected”.
I love that Michael, we can become so obsessed by what we eat that it can define us and control the way we are, who we interact with and our view of life. Where if we are simply ‘connected’ then what we eat does not take center stage rather it becomes something we do not are.