These days, we’re all encouraged to be ourselves. To be individuals. To tell the conformity man to take his opinion elsewhere, ‘cause we don’t want it!
We’re told that in school.
We’re told it in media.
We’re told that in advertisements.
We’re told it by politicians.
None of them actually mean it though. Naturally. They just want to brainwash us into thinking we’re being ourselves while actually doing what they want us to do, whether that’s learning, consuming, buying or voting a certain way.
Does that sound cynical? Sorry.
But I don’t take it back.
Not when it’s such a very prevalent trend, including in image-based circles like the health, nutrition, fitness and dieting community. This includes the authors who publish their health, nutrition, fitness and dieting beliefs.
This isn't to say they all have bad motivations. Just that the results can be bad. Results often are when we try to unnecessarily force people into boxes.
When writing a health or diet-related book, don’t pigeonhole people’s bodies.
I’ll admit this is a personal pet peeve of mine, so prepare yourself for a soapbox.
We’re not all created alike in any way, shape or form, from our personalities to our abilities to our proclivities. And the same applies to our shapes, sizes, allergies, genetics, metabolisms, etc., etc., etc.
Make sure your health advice acknowledges that reality. Otherwise, you’re adding to people’s problems.
Let’s explore this further, particularly when there’s so much information out there about what proper health, nutrition, fitness and dieting look like. It’s practically overwhelming.
First off, size 2 is not a realistic goal for all women to have. Neither is size 8 or even size 12. While I’m not all-onboard with the body positivity movement – which can take the issue of weight in an equally unhealthy direction as anorexia – there are some women’s bodies that are at their best at a size 16 or even 18.
For them, that’s not overweight. It’s healthy.
With other women, they’re not anorexic just because they’re a size 0. And the same principle applies to men’s bodies: Some men should be over 200, particularly if they’re tall and broad-shouldered or have lots of muscle mass.
But enough about dieting. How about nutrition plans?
There’s still no one-size-fits-all rule here thanks to genetics. Some people can genuinely ingest tons of salt and never once suffer negative side effects from that habit. Others can handle the supposedly toxic substance known as MSG just fine (actually, about two thirds of us can, it appears).
Or how about natural intolerances? Not everyone should consume copious amounts of dairy products. But for others, particularly those with more fragile skeletal structures, they might want to increase their dairy intake.
Similarly, just because one individual is gluten intolerant doesn’t mean everyone else has to ban it from their lives as well. In fact, it might be downright unhealthy for everyone to do so.
Unlike what the old saying tells us, what works for the goose doesn’t always work for the gander. Or vice versa.
That reality is extremely important to include in any health plan you want to promote. If you truly care about encouraging people to be the best version of themselves they can be… you need to first acknowledge that there’s no cookie-cutter “look” that everyone can ever conform to.
That’s not how we’re created to be.