Mirroring the increase in obesity, the health industry has rocketed in recent years. Instagram feeds are riddled with toned, lean men and women promoting the latest food, workout or supplement trend. New products are launched with each blink of an eye, and there are more influencers on Instagram than Pret-A-Mangers in London. While I am a massive advocate of a healthy lifestyle, I am also a huge critic of the irony that is the health industry. Through taking advantage of naïve consumers, the industry has become a powerhouse of misinformation, confusion and in some cases danger.
I try to follow a relatively healthy lifestyle. I go to the gym because I enjoy it, I try to avoid junk food and eat balanced meals and I don’t drink excessively. However, when people ask if I think I am healthy my answer is always ‘not really, I am far from perfect’. Walking into Holland and Barrett I often feel an overwhelming panic. Looking at all the vitamins, supplements and superfoods lined up on the hundreds of shelves makes me think that I couldn’t possibly be getting all these nutrients in my diet. Browsing Instagram makes me question whether my workouts are adequate or outdated and whether I should be more alkaline or follow a paleo diet, whatever that means. Reading Women’s Health makes me reconsider my entire lifestyle.
Living a healthy life used to be simple; exercise a few times a week, eat your vegetables and limit unhealthy foods. When did being healthy become at full-time job, requiring hundreds of pounds and a nutritionist degree? The truth is – it didn’t. It is so easy to get lost in the labyrinth of the health industry that we lose track of what health is at its core. When I step back and look at the fundamental aspects of my lifestyle I realise I’m not far from perfect at all, I am perfect. I am perfect because I have found a balance that works for me and that makes me happy. Maybe I don’t have Instagram-worthy smashed avo on rye for breakfast or know what Maca and Baobab are, but that doesn’t undermine the things that are right in my diet. Nor does my occasional midnight feast of accidentally finishing the whole box of dates or peanut butter (something I highly recommend by the way).
The point I am trying to make is that among the tea-toxes, superfoods, pills, workouts, magazines, slimming lollipops and waist trainers the truth is hidden but still valid. The health industry is genius, but also fraudulent. The confusion that surrounds it, and the fear and intimidation that accompanies it, means that it has become such an impossible feat to be healthy that for many of us it seems there is no point trying. No-one can be their definition of perfect without ending up insane and broke. I am not suggesting we should completely disregard the entire industry, but it is more important to find a lifestyle that is healthy for you and not one defined by a money-making machine. The truth is, you are probably a lot healthier than you think you are.