As a health blogger, I view my posts as possible guidelines for someone who may or may not know a whole lot about being healthier. Maybe they are trying to live a healthier lifestyle, maybe they are looking for different ways to live healthier, or maybe they just want to see other people’s opinions on a certain topic to make an educated decision about their own life. I am very conscious of the way that I present my views and opinions because I know that they can be integral in someone’s journey to a better life. Lately, I have noticed that other people in the health world might not have this same view.
I started noticing this on my Instagram account. I follow mostly health bloggers/enthusiasts/chefs/anything to do with food and every once and awhile I would see a post bashing a certain food/way of eating. The post would have a picture of some type of food (usually processed food like Oreos) and then state something along the lines of, “I can’t believe anyone can eat this junk”. I will be the first one to tell you that I don’t think processed food does anybody any good. I will also be the first to tell you that you’re not a bad person for eating those foods, nor do you need to feel guilty. Shaming anyone into a better lifestyle doesn’t work and most times has the opposite effect.
For the most part, people know when they don’t lead a healthy lifestyle. They know when they eat food that is not good for their health. What they don’t know perhaps is how to change, and making them feel badly about themselves is not going to get them to make a change. I would like to believe that the majority of health professionals out there genuinely want to help people be as healthy as possible, I know I do. The health community needs to make sure that rather than shunning people for eating poorly or not making the best health decisions, they need to understand it’s hard to make a big change. They need to remember when they first started their own health journey and the struggles they went through to get where they are today. Most people don’t just magically become super healthy overnight. It is a slow and gradual process with plenty of setbacks I still have to work at it each day. When I first started out, if someone had shamed me about the food I ate or all the exercise I should be doing but wasn’t or couldn’t I would have quit. No one wants to feel bad about themselves even more than they already do. They don’t need people to point out their downfalls, they need people to help them up and show them the way.
That’s why the health world needs to not just focus on the message of better choices, but on how they present that message as well. We need to be welcoming and understanding and let others know that they are not alone in their struggles. Ever heard the saying it’s easier to attract bees with honey rather than vinegar? That same message applies to the world of health. Those just starting out or looking to become healthier, don’t need our bitter or angry put downs. They need words of kindness and encouragement. They need to know they can do this and that we are here to help. If we follow that philosophy, maybe more and more people can join us in leading healthier lifestyles. That’s the whole point right?