Head back, feet up, glasses on: My grandma sits in her barker lounger doing the newspaper's crossword puzzle while simultaneously responding to the game show host (correctly, I might add) quicker than the contestants. This is usually how she ends her days, which consist of shopping for her beloved grandchildren, swimming at her community pool, playing cards with friends, and eating meals mostly consisting of tuna salad on a bed of greens with Milano cookies for desert. She'll probably remain horizontal for the rest of the day unless she gets up to refill her diet soda. She's never done a liver detox or a sugar cleanse, and for all she knows the words "spirulina and turmeric" are a foreign language, yet she's energetic, sharp as a tack, stubborn as a bull, and overweight -- and did I mention she's close to 90 years old?
I have tremendous respect for the many self-proclaimed health gurus who make it their life's goal to improve the wellness of others; however, I have also come to realize the pathetic irony I have foolishly and naively been submissive to on my own personal quest for optimum wellness. I read articles every day that claim I've most likely destroyed my gut and need to juice to get things working properly, but when were things NOT working properly? My grandma would never spend "$15 f**king on a bottle of grass," and her ability to scream that at me across the Whole Foods parking lot proves she is functioning just fine.
I am the first to agree that it is vital to your health to have a diet full of fruits and vegetables and some form of exercise; however, what was once a good-intentioned mission to spread health awareness among our nation has turned into an obsession with healing our physical and mental illnesses. But when were we ill to begin with?
This national health epiphany is a strange and ironic cycle: I've noticed that those who do not obsess over superfoods but still manage to eat moderately healthy and get a moderate amount of exercise are hardly ever complaining about how well their bodies are functioning, and they're most definitely not preoccupied with if they got 100 percent of each vitamin that day. Then there are those who are possessed by their obsession with cleansing and detoxing because they are trying to fix either a physical or emotional problem. Ironic, isn't it, that the people with the problems are the ones who are preaching health rules? The people I used to look up to for nutrition advice and fitness tips quite literally forced me to look for problems that never existed to begin with.
When I was in recovery for my eating disorder I only had one problem to focus on: my relationship with food. However, I had a very spiritual nutritionist who insisted I dive deeper into these food-related issues. Soon enough I was no longer obsessed with starving myself, but I was obsessed with figuring out what was wrong with me. Was I vitamin B12 deficient? Am I getting enough iron? Are my magnesium levels too low? Oh shit... I haven't been meditating, so my cortisol levels must be through the roof. Oh, that's why I'm tired -- it must be adrenal fatigue!
No, I didn't and still do not have adrenal fatigue. I was most likely exhausted from chasing after hypochondriac thoughts and imagined issues I convinced myself I had because these gurus were telling me something MUST be wrong. Our intake of gluten is not the problem here -- OBSESSION is.
Not everyone has the time to research the foods they need to eat to get the vitamins they are accused of missing, and not everyone has the money to eat chia pudding and supergreen powder smoothies. We don't all have parasites, we don't all have candida and we'll be just fine on a diet of lean protein, fruits and vegetables. A pimple is not an indication of dairy poisoning and a stomachache is not a diagnosis of celiac disease. You can still reach your full potential if you don't practice the "25 habits of healthy people." My grandmother is proof that you can still live a long, happy, fulfilled 90 years without a green juice a day.
We need to turn the focus away from this obsession with "fixing" issues and put the spotlight back on living healthily.
If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.