The problem with disguising nutrition and exercise under “health” or even “wellness” is that it is a very narrow and potentially damaging definition. When we define health as directly related to what we eat and our lifestyle, it sends the message that most chronic diseases are preventable…. that our health is in our own hands and by making the right choices we will increase longevity and our health span. The issue I have with this focus is that it places a very high, almost righteous value on personal responsibility and almost no explanation for environment, genetics and circumstances. It negates the social, spiritual, economical and emotional aspects that impact our daily lives such as connection with others, stress reduction, adequate sleep, clean fresh air, enjoyable physical movement and eating based on hunger, satiety, nutritional needs, and pleasure, rather than a regulated eating or fitness plan formulated by an external source (an external source includes what you’ve been told by marketers, news outlets and yes, health care providers).To me, health isn’t an objectionable outcome of living, a moral imperative nor an individual obligation. Rather it’s a balance between the body, mind and soul that includes choices I make that include or exclude, when needed, family, friends, work, community, environment and spirit that shift with time and change with circumstance. That’s my definition.
Angela Veri Babuschak, MA RDN LDN