The more I talk to people about health and what they do to stay healthy, the more I realise how everybody is different. How everybody has a different belief of what being healthy means.
When some people talk about being healthy, they mostly talk about the food they eat. The foods they think are healthy. They talk about healthy meals they had. They also talk about what dessert they had. It’s all part of their healthy eating. Some people have desserts every day. And they still think that their diet is generally pretty healthy. I am not going to dispute that. It’s just interesting to see how we are all different. Different thinking, a different approach to health and different attitudes.
This is something I haven’t covered on my blog yet – what being healthy means to ME. Over the years this has changed tremendously. I used to eat meat regularly, now, not anymore. I didn’t use to pay attention to the products I use every day. Now I do. And I was not aware of all the toxins that surround us. Now I know better. My life is different now and what “healthy” means to me is different to what it was 10 years ago. There are many more categories now or more criteria (if that’s the right word for it) which are all part of “being healthy”. This is how I split it up now:
It’s been years since I became a flexitarian and I don’t really know how it happened, it just happened, naturally, as I found meat-alternatives that were tasty, nutritious and convenient. I rarely eat meat nowadays, only once in a while, and only if it’s organic. It could be, that I have a bite or two of some kind of meat no more than a few times a year. I believe it’s healthier that way. It’s really not appealing to me to eat meat that contains antibiotics and hormones which is the case for all non-organic meat out there. And by not eating it, it’s my belief that I am being healthier.
I don’t drink cow’s milk anymore. It’s been easily replaced with plant-based milk such as oat or almond milk. Again, the same reason as meat: antibiotics, hormones and god knows what else. And, is it really natural to drink other mammal’s milk? I am, however, not dairy-free as I still eat natural yoghurt and cheese (in moderation) but at least, milk is out. I would love to replace those dairy products with something else but so far I haven’t found good enough alternatives. Until then, I buy organic produce, as much as I can.
I still eat fish and I would like to keep it that way as there are many benefits of consuming fish weekly, oily fish especially. Fish gives us essential omega-3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory and great for our joints and heart. I eat fish about 1-2 a week but I also consume vegetarian sources of omega-3s such as walnuts and milled flaxseeds. Getting enough of omega-3s is really important for our health so I do my best to eat enough omega-3 rich foods.
FRUITS AND VEG
We all know we should eat 5 (or more) portions of fruits and veg every day. I love eating salads and various vegetables every day. If I don’t eat my veggies one day, I miss them, honestly, I get cravings for them!
I don’t eat too many fruits, but every day I would have a banana, a handful of blueberries and some other fruit that is in season. I make fruits part of my breakfast but I also eat them as a snack. I think I get plenty of vitamins and minerals every day by eating fruit and veg and this is how I stay healthy. It never feels a chore to me or something that I need to force myself to do it. I enjoy eating fruits and veg.
Just to mention that I love cakes and various desserts, I am not going to deny that (who doesn’t??) and I still eat these naughty treats but it’s not an everyday thing. I like to keep most of my diet healthy but I still treat myself when I want to, normally at the weekends (ok, sometimes more often). And this is all part of a balanced, healthy diet. It doesn’t mean that if I eat cakes, I am not healthy, I don’t think so.
As I don’t eat meat or drink cow’s milk, I pay more attention to my nutrition. This is still something I am working on at the moment as I want to make sure my diet is as nutritious as it could be and that I am not missing some important minerals or vitamins.
I also continue learning about nutrition and see what I can do better to improve my diet.
Years back I got myself tested for vitamin D deficiency and I learned that I was deficient. Since then I’ve been supplementing and my levels are now normal but I need to make sure I don’t forget to supplement regularly.
Sometimes I wonder whether I am getting enough calcium, magnesium or zinc. Magnesium deficiency is very common so I learnt to eat magnesium-rich foods such as cacao powder, nuts and seeds. These are now part of my breakfast every day but I also eat other magnesium-rich foods such as dates, avocado and broccoli (sometimes). In case you didn’t know, magnesium is essential if you want to prevent PMS and if you want to control your sugar cravings.
Zinc is really important for a healthy immune system but I learnt that you don’t only find it in meat. You can also find zinc in pumpkin seeds and seafood. I try to eat these regularly.
When it comes to calcium, I don’t worry about it too much, to be honest. The plant-based milk I buy is fortified but I also get calcium from various vegetables, legumes and even tofu. I think I get enough.
Staying active is an important part of my lifestyle. It’s important to do it to stay healthy. I am even more motivated to stay active due to my knees which give me issues if I don’t exercise (due to damaged cartilage).
The activities I do regularly change based on the season, so in winter I would do more of indoor activities (home workouts, for example) and in summer I would do more outdoor activities such as cycling and hiking. I prefer outdoor activities but I still make an effort in winter to do what’s right for me, also if it’s not my favourite activity.
MONITORING MY HEALTH
When you are trying to be healthier, how do you know about your progress if you don’t know where you start from? Monitoring my health is an important aspect for me, just to make sure I am as healthy as I could be and also, it’s important for me to know whether I need to make any changes to my lifestyle to improve my health.
The things I get myself tested for once in a while are, for example, a vitamin D deficiency, blood pressure and cholesterol. I also do one-off health tests/checks if it’s something I feel it would be good to do. I always go for a smear test when invited with no delay (very important for ladies!).
I also like to monitor my weight so that I can maintain it or adjust my eating if needed.
I am not really obsessive about monitoring my health though, it’s just basic checks which I think everybody should do once in a while. Although sometimes I like to pay for some home blood tests, just for the peace of mind.
Using natural products is a big thing for me now. It’s better for your health as you avoid various toxins and harmful chemicals that way. I like to buy natural beauty products and I like cleaning my house naturally with things like white vinegar, soda bicarb and similar. I feel so much healthier doing this as I know my body is not exposed to various chemicals that are potentially harmful.
I also prefer natural supplements from synthetic ones and when buying foods I check the labels to make sure there is nothing artificial in them. I believe that natural products are healthier.
SELF-CARE AND MENTAL HEALTH
Mental health no doubt affects your general well-being, that’s why this is something I also pay attention to. I believe that being healthy is not just about physical health, it’s about mental health as well. There is no doubt about mind-body connection so this is something I try to work on every day.
To stay healthy mentally, I dedicate some time to self-care every day so I go for walks, read a book or do something else that makes me feel good and helps me manage stress. If I don’t look after my mental well-being, this could result in a bad night’s sleep or even overeating. Do you see how it is connected?
What being healthy means to me – Summary
Being healthy for me is definitely not only about healthy eating and a balanced, nutritious diet. There are other variables that I like to pay attention to. Exercise is a big part of my life and monitoring my health is also important. I am in no way perfect, not at all, and always strive to improve, wherever I can. While self-care is an important aspect of health, sometimes I know I don’t always spend enough time on it. This is definitely something I want to improve.
So this is my approach to health and staying healthy. What about you? What do you do to stay healthy and what does being healthy mean to you? (no judgements)