Health sometimes seems like it is something our society and culture has become obsessed with. It could be because I'm a registered dietitian - so maybe I did this to myself - but the pursuit of health seems to be the only reason some people are living. Can you imagine someone on their deathbed saying that they are most proud of their health?
In trying to achieve health, it seems like everything is focused on subtraction. Cut out sweets, eliminate caffeine, no eating out, no french fries and never any gluten. In fact, most fad diets are entirely focused on what you need to eliminate in order to be healthy. The keto diet? You must eliminate basically everything, except fat. I recently read a tip that you should 'plate your dinner backwards' in order to be healthy. THAT is backwards.
If health isn't encouraging us to focus on removing things, then it is entirely focused on discipline. Do you know why this doesn't work? See this blog post. You must eat this many vegetables, this many fruits or only X grams of carbs, protein and fat. Don't forget exactly 8 glasses of water, 8 hours of sleep a night and also, one last thing, you can't ever make it look like hard work.
So what is the missing piece of health?
Addition. Instead of subtraction, instead of focusing on discipline, instead of focusing on what we need to restrict, control or eliminate to support our health, the missing piece in health is what we can add in.
Let's start with food. Add in the foods you love! Add in the foods that make you feel good, that make you feel cared for, comforted and nourished. This can be adding in foods that make you feel strong, make your body feel fulfilled and may be fruits, vegetables and carbs. Worried that doing this would have you eating bags of a certain food or choosing a previously forbidden food non-stop? I can help with that.
Next, movement. Notice I didn't say exercise or workouts. Think of this as a way to feel your body doing incredible things as opposed to punishing your body for eating something, 'burning off calories' or in order to earn your next 'cheat' meal. This doesn't mean you have to stop doing hard exercise that you love or pushing your body to achieve the next bigger, badder goal. Use this as an invitation to ask yourself - do I enjoy how I move my body for fitness currently? If you dread going to do it, what else could you choose that you want to do? Dance, tennis, stand-up paddleboarding, martial arts or even a walk in the park are a few less traditional options.
There are so many other areas you could think to add something in verses take away! A few other areas you could explore - social connection or community. Research shows this extends life and improves well-being. Laughter, self-care or even a gratitude practice. Adding in even one of these pieces would have more health benefits than taking away or removing ever would.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what you could start to add in to your life to support your health. What would you add in today?