What health means to me

Tori Scala, staff writer

The warped notion of what society says “being healthy” is, is a toxic idea that diet culture has forever ruined. 

Social media has created a body image monster. I often come across diet culture content while I daily scroll through TikTok and Instagram. These posts are glorifying extreme calorie deficits and unrealistic workouts. 

What comes to mind is the popular Ketogenic diet. Keto recipes promote very unhealthy eating habits which praise high fats found in dairy and meat, and make carbs the villain. 

This diet, and so many others circling on social media currently, are meant for users to see fast results, but there is a price to cutting corners. Diets such as these completely skip over an education of general healthy eating habits, and move right to a sure fire way to lose weight. In addition, the diets themselves are often unhealthy. 

A study from Harvard Medical School concluded that it’s hard to follow diets, such as keto, that are heavy on fatty, processed, salty foods that are known to be unhealthy, along with eating these foods.

The Mayo Clinic also says, “Meeting the diet’s requirements means cutting out many healthy foods, making it difficult to meet your micronutrient needs.”   

The main point being made is that these popular diets are unsustainable due to their tight, unrealistic restrictions. You want to live a long and sustainable healthy lifestyle, rather than a fast and unstable one. 

Strict diets then stop being about maintaining health, and are more about maintaining an unrealistic image. It is particularly dangerous to have young girls absorb this toxic information, because they will most likely have body image issues.

It’s time to start defining health on an individual level. 

From my experiences, diet culture has coined being healthy as looking a certain way, rather than how you feel on the inside and out.

By taking a step back and observing what makes me feel good and happy, I finally realized that that’s all that matters. Most importantly, not comparing myself to other people on social media was the most helpful life lesson. 

Other lessons that followed were observing what makes me feel confident and clear headed, which is eating clean foods and working out when I can. 

This life lesson can be carried to all aspects of life, including my concept of being healthy. Personally, living a healthy lifestyle is simple. I try and exercise once a day and eat food that makes me feel good. 

My usuals are attending a yoga class, going for a walk or enjoying a spin class. 

Through trial and error I have found that certain foods make me feel tired and bloated, while others give me energy. 

Now, I am not saying that I don’t indulge and have fast food with my friends at 2 a.m., or that I have a day where I don’t leave the couch. Of course I do, I am only human, and you are too.

Diet culture has instilled this feeling of guilt for taking rest days, or having “cheat meals.” This idea of “cheat meals” is wrong on so many levels. 

It has taken me almost my whole life to accept who I am and realize what health really means for me. 

Body image has been something I have struggled with for quite some time. Once I realized that the source of all of my issues was from social media, things really turned around for me. 

I stopped looking to social media for validation, and I have been better for it. I now know that I am a healthy individual. I may not fit society’s mold for a “healthy looking person” but that’s ok. As long as I know that I am nurturing my body, that’s honestly all I need to be happy and confident. 

It’s easier said than done, but I’m begging you, don’t compare yourself to others. You will be better for it mentally and physically. Just stay in your own lane sis, and focus on yourself.