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A student dietitian’s musings on weight and health

How do you measure your own health? Do you take into account your friends and family supporting you, being confident in your own skin, drinking enough water every day, moving your body in ways that you enjoy, knowing what to do when times get stressful, or nourishing your body with food it deserves? Or do you just look at that number on the scales?

I grew up in an environment where people around me were always worried about what they ate, mainly based on the assumption that certain foods will make you gain weight and having extra ‘fat’ on you was unhealthy.

I grew up in a time where fad diets reigned – whether it was keto, paleo, low carb, juice cleanses, detox teas (you get the idea) – and what did all of these have in common? Weight loss. I was conditioned into thinking that weight was the be all and end all of health.

These assumptions were contradicted during the first semester of my dietetic studies. To say I was apprehensive would have been an understatement. I literally thought this way of looking at weight and health was one of those ‘holistic’ and alternative methods.

Fast track 2 years, and I am still on a learning curve, but I have come leaps and bounds in my understanding and accepting of weight not being the most important indicator of health. This, for some people, can be a hard pill to swallow.

In saying this, there are still so many questions that I don’t have the answer too when it comes to weight, BMI and their relationship to health. But at this point in time, my answer would be to take all the energy you are placing on yourself, your weight and your body and to put this into other aspects of health, like running a bubble bath to de-stress, making an effort to reach out to someone for chat if you’re feeling lonely, eating foods because you enjoy them, and waking up every day with a purpose.

Health is a complex multifactorial concept that is influenced by an unbelievably huge amount of areas in life – some areas we might not even be aware of.

So as I take this time to reflect on what health means to me, I would invite you to do the same.

And as I move through this journey, I look forward to sharing how my thoughts and perceptions change (or perhaps don’t change).

What is health really?

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