According to a survey done on the health of the populace only 15% of people claim to eat two serves of fruit and five of vegetables every day. Only 7% exercise for half an hour everyday. We are “failing” to meet guidelines and this will of course lead to an intolerable burden of disease, say the experts.
You know the script. Whoa is me. It is all doom and gloom.
Blah, Blah, Blah! The only solution is more funding please.
Don’t feel too bad if you are “failing “ to meet these arbitrary guidelines. I “fail” too. Yes, I have become just another statistic.
And therein lies the problem. On what basis are these “guidelines” the determinant of whether we are healthy or not. On what basis is 35 serves of vegetables a week healthy and 33 not healthy? On what basis is 30 minutes of exercise healthy but 25 not?
There is none!
The notion of cut off lines between healthy and not healthy is wrong. There is a continuum of health and there are multiple pillars of good health. Diet and exercise are but two of eight.
We need to get the big picture right.
Therefore to say that all those people who eat vegetables but not 35 serves a week are destined for ill health is rubbish. Eating healthy means getting a balance of foods. Yes we need to eat fruits and vegetables and we need to minimize processed and packaged foods. But it is OK to have a piece of cheesecake on Sunday. You will still be healthy.
It is good to be active and to exercise. But you don’t have to go to the gym every day to get the benefits and be healthy.
And in the real world as against the academic dystopia, life expectancy continues to increase. In Australia it has increased around 4 years in the 20 years from 1990-2010 despite the wails of obesity and other crises. Of course, in part this is because for 75% of those classed as overweight, their few extra kilos will not shorten their life nor lead to chronic illness.
So lets get down to basics. There are eight pillars of health and all of them are important. Being healthy is NOT a religion. It is not about rigid arbitrary numbers. It is about looking after yourself in a sensible way and also enjoying life. There is no simple numerical “cut off” line. There is a spectrum between wellbeing and “dis-ease”.
Our aim is to position ourselves towards the wellbeing end of that spectrum.