‘Us’ Versus ‘Them’ : The Polarization of HealthAugust 23, 2017
Are you a hardcore carnivore, or a vehement vegan? Or are you neither, and simply tired of all the health polarizing articles flooding your Facebook feed? Whichever side of the health spectrum you may fall on, I’m here to bring everyone together and open up a conversation about how the quest for healthy living has unnecessarily turned into an “us” versus “them” battle.
With all of the emerging research regarding food and which diet/lifestyle choice is proven to be “best,” health has become as polarizing as religion. Everyone believes that their views on health are the only right ones, and that anything different is flat-out wrong. However, there is no single “right” thing for everyone; what is good and healthy for each individual is based on their specific bodies and a variety of other factors. So why are people so insistent that others eat and live a certain way?
I believe this polarization of health stems from a desire for connection, and a need to form a clear identity. People want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and to advocate for it. It is wonderful to find something that resonates strongly with you, and to feel a sense of purpose, but why does that have to be at the expense of others’ beliefs and what has resonated for them? What if, instead of trying to put others down and change their ways, we focused on the bigger picture of striving for greater health for our society? The pursuit of healthy living is something good and important, there is no need to turn it into something divisive.
Just as religion is a personal relationship between an individual and their figure of worship, health is an equally personalized experience based on what a person believes is right and feels good for them. What someone else consumes does not affect your body or quality of life, so respect their decisions and they should respect yours. As I will discuss in a later blog post, I am a firm believer in intuitive eating. As I help people to create synergy between mind, body, and soul, I work off of the idea that each person intuitively knows which ways of eating and moving are right for them. While I do have fairly strong views on health based on research I have read and information I have acquired, I ultimately understand that what works for me may not be what is right for someone else. I feel it is my duty to share what I have learned with others so that they can make their own decisions–not to tell them they are wrong for thinking differently.
While I am trying to act as a mediator between health “extremists,” I do want to make it clear that I am specifically talking about individuals who are on their own personal paths to health. I am by no means suggesting that someone who is completely ambivalent towards their health, eats fast food for each meal, and spends all day sitting on the couch is not in need of a gentle intervention (although, at the end of the day it’s their decision, too!). However, I am talking about people who actively pursue healthy living and have done their research to determine that a specific way of living is right for them. If you fall into this category, good for you! Be proud of yourself and others who are committed to improving their health, whichever course they may take to get there.