Losing body fat, gaining muscle mass, getting fitter, and improving health markers, such as blood cholesterol levels, are some of the most common reasons people start a diet.
And whilst these are all good goals to chase achieving them won't necessarily lead you to optimal health.
Because physical health does'nt tell the whole story. In fact, your body fat level and heart health represent just one 5th of your overall health!
Simply put, there's more to being healthy than getting leaner, fitter and stronger. Health has many components so unless your diet is thoughtfully designed you'll do what so many people knowingly or unknowingly do...
Including myself in the past...
You'll fall short of being completely healthly by neglecting one or more components of overall health in your pursuit of a leaner, fitter body.
WHAT IS HEALTH?
As I've suggested, being healthy is much more than dodging diseases or dropping a few dress sizes.
Complete health improves your physical, mental, emotional, social and financial wellbeing.
- PHYSICAL HEALTH
- MENTAL HEALTH
- EMOTIONAL HEALTH
- SOCIAL HEALTH
- FINANCIAL HEALTH
Its only when all of these facets of health are optimized that you can feel truly healthy.
Have you ever stopped to think about the impact that your diet is having upon your health?
At the end of the day your dietary decisions will either positively or negatively impact your health.
Lets talk about this in a little more detail...
To promote physcial health your body needs certain things from your diet, such as:
- Calories to provide your body with energy.
- Proteins to build and repair the tissues of your body and support your immune system.
- Fats to build hormones and cell membranes.
- Carbs to support your digestive health and provide energy.
- Plus vitmains and minerals to enable your body to function on all cylinders.
In our modern food environment giving your body everything it needs isnt that easy. Sure Calories are easy to come by, but you'll need to consume an appropriate quantity, quality and variety of foods to give your body everything else on the list.
Unfortunatley, many diets are set up in a way that lead to nutrient deficiencies. The "If it fits your macros" (IIFYM) approach is a common example of how some people can achieve their weight loss goal yet create a nutrient deficiencies at the same time due to following a calorie controlled yet nutrient poor diet.
Most diets provide you with a list of foods you can and cannot eat which can potentially create unhealthy relationships with food.
Low carb and keto diets are a good example of how a perfectlty healthy food group, in this case carbohydrates, are put on the list of foods to avioid and therefore portrayed as bad or unhealthy.
Whilst eating in such a way could benefit for your waistline have you ever stopped to think about the effect this can have upon your mental health?
How do you view carbs? In my opinion, unless you have a food allergy or a specific medical condition that demands it, no foods should be completelty off limits or demonized (except perhaps man-made trans fats).
Food affects your emotions. Are you eating foods that support your emotional health?
Vegetarians and vegans are good examples of people who simply feel really good about not eating certain animal foods.
And whilst many people are quick to criticize their dietary habits and label them as inferior or perhaps lacking in certain nutrients, having a positive emotional connection to your food is healthy and important.
What impact are your food choices having upon your emotions?
How is your diet affecting your social life?
Is it supporting it or destroying it?
I've come into contact with quite a few people who take such a rigid approach to their diet that they avoid social occasions just to stay on track and eat perfectly.
You can (and probably should!) enjoy good food and alcohol with your loved ones when you want.
Building some flexibility into your diet can not only allow you to enjoy some alcoholic drinks and high calorie foods like pizza and ice cream now and then, it can also lead to improved mood, more weight loss, less overeating, and less binge eating!
Many people will tell you that you need to eat pasture-raised, wild, and organic foods to be healthy.
The truth is, spending a small fortune in the supermarket each week could actually be detrimental to your health.
Exceeding your budget and depleting your bank account can create a great deal of stress in your life!
Buying lots of expensive supplements is another way to create the same issue.
The truth is, you can eat healthily on virtually any budget. Frozen vegetables are a great example of how you can buy cheap healthy food - the advantage of frozen veggies is that they tend to ratain a high amount of vitamins.
If buying the best foods money can buy makes you feel good and you can afford it - go for it. But if your budget doesnt stretch that far dont worry - you can still eat healthily.
I'd like to round out this post by mentioning that your health is a by product of more than just your dietary choices.
The people who live the longest and fullest lives on the planet have several things in comon, including:
- Good amounts of sun exposure
- Lower stress levels
- A strong sense of purpose or religion in life
- Close knit community and strong family bonds
- A lack of pollution
- Non smoking
Consider these things in your persuit of amazing health and if you are able to improve any of them do it!
Health is multi faceted.
You need to look beyond your physical health to be completelty healthy.
When choosing a diet and consider if it makes a good fit for your budget, social life, emotional and mental health before committing to it.
Hope you enjoyed the read - let me know if you have any questions!