Flourish

The Skinny Wars

When I posted my article on hosting a skinny Thanksgiving, I received some negative blowback. I was accused of contributing to the damaging diet mentality of our society.  Subsequently, there was some discourse back and forth of differing opinions, and it got me thinking about the divide between the two camps. 

To me, healthy eating and fitness have as much to do with my overall health, as with how my body looks. I will concede that my critic may have had a point in how I articulated my ideas. Maybe I shouldn’t have titled my post “A Skinny Thanksgiving”. I could have called it a healthier, more nourishing or less taxing on the body Thanksgiving, but those are crappy titles. In addition, maybe I shouldn’t have talked as much about the differential in calories and carbs, but about the contrast in health benefits.

This issue doesn’t have to be so black and white, there is a definitive gray area where many people reside.  Is it wrong to want to be healthy and fit? No it’s not. On the other hand, is it wrong to eat how you desire, and to be happy with the body you have, absolutely not.

According to Eating Disorder Hope, 25% of American men and 45% of American women are on a diet on any given day. Why is this? A big contributor, is our society’s unhealthy ideal of the “perfect” body. Underweight actresses and models and unrealistic photos in magazines, set standards the are very difficult to achieve. Aspiring to look like this ideal can lead to disordered eating, low self-esteem and other destructive behaviors. Should we be holding ourselves to these standards? Unequivocally, NO. Do I think that blog posts like mine are contributing to this epidemic? No. However, I do see how referring to recipes as “skinny” can be looked upon as negative. “Skinny” should not be the goal. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum you have an obesity epidemic. According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 1/3 of US adults are obese. Obesity can lead to numerous health problems including, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain types of cancers. Why is this? For one it’s our food. The standard American diet is moving in an alarming direction. Processed foods, fast foods, and other unhealthy options are not only the norm, but preferred. In addition, the portions are becoming increasingly larger. The portion size that your body actually needs and should have, are starting to look downright puny compared to what we are used to. Coupled with all this food, is a sedentary lifestyle, working at a desk, playing video games, watching TV, none of which has you moving your body much. This all adds up to weight gain. The weight gain can be slow and hardly noticeable at first.  Maybe you put on a few pounds a year, but after 5 years that could mean an extra 15 pounds! Does this mean you should always be watching what you eat, even on holidays? No. Does this mean that you should be selective of what you put in your body. Yes!

Between these two extremes, lies the happy medium. Maintaining a healthy weight through eating nutritious foods and exercising on a regular basis. Having a positive body image that allows you to take care of your body without unreasonable restriction, while at the same time not overindulging unhealthfully. This is difficult for many people for a myriad of reasons such as, no time to exercise, can’t afford “healthy” foods, don’t have time to cook, think you’re too old, can’t stay motivated etc….However, for every excuse there is a solution.

No time to exercise?  Even if you only do 30 mins a day, or 3 times a week, or just on weekends, whatever you can manage. 

Can’t afford “healthy” foods – Yes you can! Buy real food. Try to limit things that come in packages as much as possible, processed food is not only less healthy, it’s expensive.

Don’t have time to cook? Prepare ahead of time. Make some dishes on the weekend and freeze them for use during the week.

Think your too old? It’s never to late to be healthy. 

Not motivated? Get a buddy to do it with you. Hold each other accountable.  Get out and be active together, collaborate on meal plans, discuss setbacks and goals.

I realize this is easier said than done. It’s a constant struggle to eat healthfully and to find time to exercise. It’s an important struggle though, and one that you shouldn’t give up on. Being healthy and feeling good affects every aspect of your life, and it’s worth working hard for. 

As for my article, I wasn’t promoting disordered eating or encouraging counting calories. I simply enjoy finding healthy alternatives that taste delicious. Finding balance is always my goal. 

If you need more ideas on how to find time, or to accomplish your goals, comment below and I will answer with some suggestions!

Oh and I will warn you now, I will be positing some lightened up Christmas recipes!

Enjoy!

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