Sarah Henry, NEXT editor
This morning, over my first coffee of the day, I scrolled through my social media feeds. First up, there was a super fit friend posing post run: ‘Just busted out today’s 10km. Struggled. Soooo unfit’. Rubbish! She’d probably give some members of the All Blacks a run for their money. Another acquaintance had photographed their breakfast bowl, saying ‘nothing like acai to kick-start my healthy eating...’ Knowing this particular person hasn’t seen a carbohydrate since 2012, I’m pretty sure there is nothing to kick start. Further down the feed, people were posting images of workouts, supplements, sugar-free snacks and paleo lunches, BPA-free bottles, new season yoga pants and the latest super-charged neon trainers, all put out to the social media universe like a badge of honour – ‘Look at me. I worry about my health’.
Later, I stopped in at my local dairy on the way to work. The shop is next to a bakery and I had to fight my way through the high school kids fuelling up on the way to school. What was on the menu? Pies, chips, hotdogs, battered fish, deep-fried chicken (yes, at 8am!) and litres of fizzy drink! And before we blame the kids, there were also a few adults, with generous waistlines, stocking up. I wanted to rip the stuff out of their hands and scream ‘Why?’
I agree with Ben when he says you can’t worry about your health enough. If you don’t have your health, you really don’t have anything, but we need a large number of our society to start worrying about it some more. It’s as if all the ‘body positive’ messages about ‘loving yourself exactly the way you are’ have become excuses to eat what we want and do as little as possible. Perhaps we need to find some middle ground and change the language. Rather than encouraging people to worry about their health– which is promoting the wrong people to obsess – we need to promote ‘caring about our health’. We ‘care’ for our pets. We ‘care’ for our cars, let’s all start to ‘care’ about our health.
Ben Warren, nutrition and holistic health expert
I don’t believe the wrong people are worrying about their health. You can’t worry about your health enough.
This question assumes that the ‘perfectly healthy’ people are, in fact, healthy. It’s a common assumption… the Ministry of Health states that 90% of people think they are healthy.
Yet new registrations for cancer are increasing by 18.7% in New Zealand, over 270,000 people have been diagnosed with diabetes (mostly type 2), 33% of adults are obese in New Zealand and over 40% of deaths still come from heart disease (including stroke).
So, where are the healthy people? They are at seminars, researching online, in health food shops (caring about what they eat) and taking supplements to pick up the nutrients that are no longer in the food.
Yet, 84% of New Zealanders have low vitamin D (below 80 nmol) and without adequate vitamin D, you’re stuffed! You might not have a diagnosed disease, but your body and mind will not be operating as well as it should. A lack of a diagnosed disease or problem does not make you healthy!
I perform extensive blood work on my clients and I’ve yet to find someone who can’t make improvements in their blood work through diet, exercise and nutritional supplements. As far as I’m concerned, you can’t worry about your health too much.
Worrying provides the motivation to gain knowledge and take action, so although worrying about your health seems negative, often the net effect is improved knowledge and improved health as a result.
Health is a process, it’s something you work towards on a daily level, making the best decisions you can about the foods you are eating, ensuring adequate exercise and working on personal mental/emotional wellness. The problem is not that the wrong people are worrying about their health, the problem is that not everyone is worrying about their health!
Photo: Thinkstock Images