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A different angle at health

05 / 01 / 2016

While I steadfastly believe that to maximise ones health, a diet transformation can result in unfathomably positive changes, I think we all need to push beyond just diet to really change the world. We all know that developed countries are primarily overfed and undernourished, with diet related diseases being called the plagues of the 21st century, yet with this notion of 'eat everything on your plate' and 'eat your grandmothers special pie' so ingrained in generations, those who are left wanting to change are often on their own. With depression and anxiety rates also being higher then ever and a general loneliness running through a digitally obsessed world, it's clear that it's more then just diet - it always has and always will be. While we have social media networks and group chats to meet like minded people - it comes to a point where unless you've met some of these people in person, it's just a loose illusion that gets old pretty fast.

So let's say that a 48 year old female who is overweight and depressed, taking medication for hypertension and joint pain finds online the benefits of a plant based diet. She decides to do a juice cleanse to kick start her path to wellness and eagerly goes through the 'honeymoon' phase of buying a juicer, discovering plant based blogs, the vegan YouTube community, Facebook groups, cookbooks and health icons like Kris Carr and Tara Stiles. This works great and she looses a considerable amount of weight, experiences no more joint pain and stops taking all medication. However perhaps a year later when this new lifestyle of eating whole foods has become routine and the initial excitement has levelled out, she finds herself only continuing on good days and the habits of the past beging to creep back in. She lives alone and works at a desk job in an IT firm. Missing the social support and virtual interaction with others on the same journey she regains the weight and although doesn't experience any pain in her joints, is depressed and reluctant to go out and make new friends.

I think this (made up) scenario can be related to in many ways. While it seems overwhelming to think that we have to incorporate a healthy social circle, exercise, intimacy, meditation or yoga, interests and passions into our lives as well as diet to achieve optimal health status, as diet is a big enough step for all of us - it's a simple truth that this list is the culprit for many people falling short of their potential. We need to look beyond diet, as while perhaps it is the biggest hurdle for many to overcome, it needs to be spread in conjunction these other elements of health to ensure long term benefits.

While watching a raw food documentary where Woody Harrelson was interviewed (utter fan!!), he mentioned that his own success on raw foods comes down to the extent of his support network. This really rang true with me because I can relate to being the person who thinks they can manage all on their own and are doing pretty good without interaction with others. However when I just hang out and soak up the energy of other vegan friends my age (or any really), you feel such elation that you think 'why this is so easy when you have a pal'. We're social creatures and need like minded people around us - and that along with other things is one of the keys to success.

My message is just this, if you are starting a journey towards better health from any angle really, don't punish yourself by thinking the mindset of 'I got myself into this shit, now I have to get myself out'. That's toxic and thoroughly necessary. Instead reach out to people, and make friends - it won't take very much effort I promise because your experiences will glue you together. Then from then on, everything else will be so much easier and your health will thank you for it.