10 Unpopular Truths About Bodies And Healthy Eating That We All Need To Hear

10 Unpopular Truths About Bodies And Healthy Eating That We All Need To Hear

It's not a certain body type or neglecting certain food groups.

As an advocate for the Health at Every Size movement and fighting against fatphobia and eating disorders, I hear a lot of misconceptions from other people about what health is. We live in a society that glorifies losing weight and shames gaining weight, and it's easy for people to become focused to an extreme on health and fitness. Furthermore, dieting is the biggest predictor of an eating disorder, and both weight loss and body size can be affected by genetics, according to the Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders, one of the most prestigious eating disorder centers in the country. The following are truths about health.

1. Health doesn't always equal skinny.

For some, losing a bunch of weight and being "skinny" is unhealthy because it took unhealthy behaviors to get there. For some, they don't try to incorporate all nutrients into their diets, but still are able to maintain a low weight.

2. Health isn't even one particular body size or BMI number.

BMI isn't a good indicator for health -- it doesn't always accurately portray what a person is eating, how much water he or she is drinking, or account for muscle mass. Health looks differently for different people. Health at Every Size celebrates body diversity, finding enjoyment in moving your body, trusting your body's hunger and satiety signals, and accepting your size. Fatphobia is an issue that leads to unhealthy eating and even eating disorders.

3. Health isn't only eating fruits and vegetables or avoiding entire food groups. It doesn't label food.

All foods have a place in a healthy diet; we need all kinds of food and nutrients to live healthily and happily. Labeling foods as "good" or "bad" can translate into us feeling like "good" or "bad" people, and makes us sometimes avoid the foods our bodies want. Food has no moral value. Furthermore, the more you restrict your eating, the more you want (and will likely eat, or even binge on) that food.

4. Health isn't an obsession about what you eat, look like or how much you exercise.

Health is about trusting your body's signals, honoring your body's needs, and being able to live with a flexible and carefree nature. Obsessions can be unhealthy and taken too far. The following phrase annoys me too, but it's so true: everything in moderation.

5. Health isn't purely physical -- it's just as much mental.

Mental health is so important to a happy and healthy life; mental health matters just as much as physical health. Ways to maintain mental health include seeing a therapist, spending time with other people, and doing things you enjoy and that relax you. A great resource for finding a therapist is www.therapists.psychologytoday.com.

6. Health cannot be recognized instantly by looking at someone.

As stated before, health looks differently for different people and is often dependent to some degree on genetics. We can't tell what a person eats by how much space he or she takes up. This goes for all intersections of identities.

7. Health isn't always about "should" or "shouldn't."

Our bodies know what they need and will tell us and adjust to what we feed it. They work to keep us alive. If you want a piece of cake, eat a piece of cake! You're not going to gain weight from that, nor is it a bad thing.

8. Health isn't about detoxes.

Our body has learned over many years how to survive and take care of itself. It heals and adjusts in amazing ways. We have livers and kidneys that detox for us; detoxing through other methods isn't healthy and often doesn't work.

9. Health isn't about distrusting your body.

I've said it several times, and I'll say it again: trust the hunger and satiety signals your body gives you. Trust the cravings. Your body knows what it wants -- it was created to work that way. When your body distrusts you, or doesn't get food when it needs it, it know's how to survive; for example, it may make you eat, cause you to binge, or keep you awake under survival mechanisms in which your body keeps you awake so you can go "look for" food.

10. Healthy eating can best be described by dietician and therapist Ellyn Satter:

"Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it — not just stop eating because you think you should. Normal eating is being able to give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food.

Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good. Normal eating is mostly three meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch along the way. It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful. Normal eating is overeating at times, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. And it can be undereating at times and wishing you had more.

Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life. In short, normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food and your feelings.”

During Embody Carolina trainings, which were created by CEED and mentioned at the top, we talk more about healthy and unhealthy eating, we mention how we don't agree with her use of "mistakes," but that overall, we believe this is a great definition of healthy eating. Screenshot the picture below for your phone's wallpaper, if you'd like!

You get the point by now: your body is not the devil, and health is not a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. By embracing and taking care of ourselves, not being the "food police" for ourselves or others, and by listening to our body's signals, we can live a healthy and carefree life that isn't triggering to anyone, including ourselves.

Cover Image Credit: Study Breaks

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.

You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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I Am 9,170 Miles Away But I Still Choose To Stand In Solidarity With The People Of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has its own flaws and imperfections, but what I've learned is that even on our darkest days, no one can take away faith and solidarity.


April 21, 2019. Easter Sunday.

I was devastated to wake up on Sunday morning to a series of missed calls and texts from friends asking whether my friends and family were affected by the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. I was shocked to read all of the news about the bombings in various churches and hotels that I'd visited on my trips to Sri Lanka. I remember wandering around the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in middle school hoping to get a glimpse of internationally famous cricket players like Lasith Malinga and Kumar Sangakkara.

Now, this hotel where I associated happy memories of staying up until 5 a.m. to watch the World Cup and running around with my brother is one of the 6 locations in Sri Lanka that was bombed on Easter.

Sri Lanka is a country that most of my peers have never heard of. It brings a smile to my face when I'm able to talk about the amazing experiences I've had on this island nation. I'm able to talk about how I almost got run over by an elephant during a safari in Yala National Park, how I took surfing lessons at Arugam Bay, and how I climbed all the way up Mount Sigiriya when I was 4 years old. All of these experiences have shown me the beauty of the people, the nature, the animals, and the culture of Sri Lanka. While there is so much to appreciate, there is also so much to acknowledge about its recent history.

In 2009, the 30-year civil war finally came to an end. I remember going to my parents' room when I was nine, and watching live streams of people in the streets celebrating that the war had finally ended. This was a war that caused the majority of my family to flee the country to avoid the violence and destruction. Now, almost ten years after the war ended, there was a coordinated attack on churches and hotels that led to the murder of over 300 innocent citizens and wounded around 500 people.

Sri Lanka isn't perfect, but it's roots and culture have made me who I am today. Even though I wasn't alive during the majority of the war, it has left a lasting impact on my family. My mom had to go by herself to Russia, without any prior Russian language experience, to avoid being in the middle of the war. She now speaks English, Russian, Tamil, and Sinhalese. I had other family members who fled to places like New Zealand, Nigeria, Canada, and Australia.

Because of the war, I have family all over the world who can speak Mandarin, Arabic, Dutch, Malay, French, Russian, and so many more languages. Being Sri Lankan has given me an international perspective on the world around me and has given me the insight to look past cultural differences. Instead of going to shopping malls with my cousins like my friends in the US do, I meander through bazaars in Singapore and Malaysia or go dune-bashing in the United Arab Emirates.

When people look at me, they never think that my last name could be Paul. Shouldn't it be something that is hard to pronounce or something much longer? My last name dates back to 1814 when missionaries from Williams College traveled all the way to villages in the Northern parts of Sri Lanka to share God's love. My great great great grandfather studied in one of the many Christian schools and his faith has been passed down from generation to generation. No matter how dark things got during the war, faith is what kept my family going.

Though Sri Lanka has faced adversity over the years, it continues to grow stronger. Through violence, hurricanes, government corruption, and internal conflicts, Sri Lanka continues to push through. Sri Lanka has its own flaws and imperfections, but what I've learned is that even on our darkest days, no one can take away faith and solidarity.

So today—9,170 miles away—I stand with the people of Sri Lanka.

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