In various parts of my journey towards healthy living, I have had different opinions on different topics.
For example, sometimes I felt that I had to be absolutely strict in what we ate and what products we used. Other times, I felt like I needed to relax a little, because life just isn’t perfect and we can’t be, either. Over time I’ve come to believe there’s a balance, and we’ll never quite achieve it, but we’ll go back and forth, being a little too lenient and a little too strict. Oh well.
I know that a lot of my readers probably have had the same experience. It’s hard to know where the balance is. It’s even harder when you’re facing mainstream lies about healthy living, that tell you that you should basically just give up!
Rather than allowing people to bring us down, let’s take a look at the truth behind some of these lies.
12 Mainstream Lies About Healthy Living You Likely Believe
1. “Natural” or chemical-free living is impossible or useless.
Healthy living is kind of what we’re all about here, so obviously I don’t think it’s useless — and neither do many others. But critics are quick to point out that everything is technically a “chemical” — even basic sea salt or water. While that’s true, we’re obviously referring to dangerous chemicals, not any and all. It’s not useless at all to avoid dangerous chemicals, and it’s not impossible, either.
It can be hard, though. Especially if you are away from home, or need to buy easier items. It shouldn’t be as hard as it is in those cases. But it’s still completely worth it, to feel better and be healthier long-term!
2. Healthy living is “anti-science.”
This one is pretty silly. Some people maintain that we have modern foods and modern medicine available for a reason, and we’re “anti-science” not to take full advantage of it.
However, these modern conveniences come with their own risks and drawbacks. They’re not these amazing things that have no negatives! That’s why most who are interested in healthy living try to carefully balance modern with old-fashioned. They’re not against modern, when and where needed. They just exercise caution when we might not know all of the potential risks, or when the risks clearly outweigh the benefits (like eating only processed foods).
3. What makes a healthy life is constantly changing.
If you follow the media’s idea of healthy living, this seems pretty darn true.
There’s a new study out almost everyday, which the media hypes up big time, saying that simple things could “save your life” or “kill you.” Rarely is the actual evidence so conclusive. But, people read all of this conflicting information and just give up.
But really, it’s not that hard. What makes us healthy doesn’t change — clean, unprocessed foods; plenty of rest; low stress. Exactly what that means for individual families may differ, but it’s the same in general and it doesn’t change, no matter what a new study says.
4. It’s mean or bad to ‘force’ kids to live a healthy life.
Some people maintain that it’s “mean” to ask kids to skip the candy, or not give them processed foods. That’s because food is a very personal thing to people, and they have many fond memories that surround food and events that included food. So, it seems that withholding those particular foods from children is “mean.”
Of course, the truth is, kids will form their own memories surrounding the foods that they eat. They aren’t missing out on something they’ve never had. They don’t know the difference! Maybe instead of loving McDonald’s, they’ll love Mom’s homemade grass-fed burgers on sourdough buns. Or instead of store-bought ice cream, they’ll love Dad’s homemade ice cream.
Plus, modeling a healthy lifestyle and teaching your kids about why it’s important sets them up for a lifetime of healthy choices!
5. Families who live healthy have an eating disorder.
There are two ways that I hear this one. One is “If you don’t let your kids eat junk food, then as soon as you’re not watching they’ll eat all the junk food and go totally crazy and have an eating disorder.” The other is “Healthy living itself becomes an obsession and is an eating disorder.”
To the first point, I say — balance. Give your kids clear information on why you make the choices you do, and be willing to allow a treat now and then, and they won’t go nuts. The kids who go crazy and the ones who never get to do something “bad” and don’t understand why their parents are so insistent. We read food labels together, we talk about why we avoid certain ingredients, and sometimes the kids get to choose things we don’t prefer (and sometimes they learn they don’t feel so well after eating it).
To the second point — also balance. Healthy eating isn’t a disorder. If you become obsessed over every single bite you put in your mouth and go without eating rather than risk something that isn’t “perfect,” there’s a problem. Preferring to eat well and choose clean things 80 – 90% of the time and letting the rest go is perfectly reasonable.
6. To live healthy, you must always ____ or never _____.
Some people say things like “You can never eat dairy/gluten/soy because it’s horrible for absolutely everyone and basically poison.” or “You must always eat salads every single day.”
But really? It’s not true. There are no hard-and-fast rules, not super-specific ones, that everyone has to follow — or else. Everyone’s body is different and their ideal diet will be a little different, too.
If we listened to all the people who said those things, there would be nothing left to eat or use! So instead, follow what makes you feel good and strong and ignore all the “rules.”
7. Healthy living doesn’t matter because we’re all going to die anyway.
It’s true — we will all die someday. There is not a single thing we can do to stop that from happening.
Healthy living does a couple of things. It can possibly delay when we will die. And more importantly, it can make us feel good and strong for the time we’re here. Who wants to live feeling junky and tired all the time, unable to enjoy life? Not me!
That’s why healthy living is so important. You can’t cheat death, but you can really enjoy your life.
8. Healthy living is just about weight loss.
If you look at the media, you’ll see tons of stories that focus on weight loss. “Lose 14 lbs in 14 days!” “Look and feel 20 years younger by losing up to 50 lbs!” and so on.
But healthy living isn’t about weight loss. Sometimes, weight loss is needed, and sometimes it happens. But the focus is on feeling good, feeling strong, and making choices that are good for your body. Weight loss might come as a result, or it might not, but it isn’t the main goal or focus.
Plus, a lot of the weight loss plans out there are actually not healthy for your body, long-term! (Crash diets, super restrictive eating plans, etc.)
9. Healthy living is something you can do “sometimes” or “temporarily”
This stems often from the ‘diet’ myth. There’s the idea that you can go “on a diet” for a few weeks, or do a short cleanse, or a short-term exercise plan to improve your health, then go back to how you were.
While this might benefit you in the very short-term (while you’re doing it and shortly after), it’s not something that will change your long-term health. Healthy living is a complete lifestyle, one that you stick with forever. It doesn’t mean no treats again, ever; it means that treats need to be a rare occasion and not a daily thing.
10. You have to be super strict, or healthy living is useless
On the flip side, you don’t have to be strict about healthy living 100% of the time to see benefits. If you’re careful 90% of the time, it’s going to be okay to “slip up” the other 10%. Life isn’t perfect and neither are we.
Make healthy living your lifestyle, and treats your occasional pleasure. You’ll be fine.
11. Healthy living is only about physical health
Mental and emotional health is just as important. This includes stress reduction, healthy relationships, and more. Mental and emotional health actually has a lot to do with physical health anyway. You can’t be truly healthy if you’re eating well and exercising, but are completely stressed out all the time!
Make time to vent your emotions when needed. Find a supportive friend or two. Figure out how you de-stress the best. (A long bath? Exercise? Visiting the shooting range?) It’s so important. It’s not for ‘weak’ people and it’s not optional — it’s for everyone, all the time.
12. Healthy living is just too hard, so I might as well give up.
I get it. With all of the conflicting information out there, plus all of the very real demands on your time, it can feel like healthy living is just too hard. You don’t know what to do. You don’t have the time or money to do it. It would be easier to just give up.
I promise you that doesn’t have to be true. When you feel that way, seek support from a community who lives the way you do (or want to). Ask questions. Vent. Get some help from people who are in the trenches with you.
And, if you have a bad day, week, month…. Who cares? Everyone does. It’s not over forever. Pick yourself up, seek some help, and get started again. We have all been there. (Me too.)