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Healthy(ish): How Not To Be A Wellness Maniac

Grazia logo Grazia 14/01/2020 Emma Stoddart
a plate of food on a table: Wellness photograph © Credits: Getty Wellness photograph

We all know how crazy the wellbeing industry has become in the past ten years. Obviously it’s wonderful that the nation is being advised to take vitamin D, to exercise, eat lots of fruit and veg and ditch the Dunkin' Donuts, but I have a problem with wellbeing ‘extremists’. You will find them mostly on Instagram with a before and after shot, cropped top on, abs out, green juice in one hand, victory sign with the other. One post last month showed a former TV star listing everything she does for ‘maintenance’. It went a bit like this: Bulletproof coffee, Cryo treatments (when you enter a freezing cold chamber, which she said was ‘great for depression’), biohacking, infrared saunas, Matcha tea, a spike mat, gut healthy foods, organic meat, celery juice daily, no tap water, grassfed butter, gene supplementation, 5HTP every night… the list went on. And she finished saying: ‘THIS IS A BASIC LIST.'

But is doing every fad in the name of wellness actually making people well? In some cases, and especially when it turns to orthorexia (an obsessive preoccupation with wellness and eating healthy foods), it’s actually making them very ill indeed. And who knows how your turmeric latte will react when put together with your adaptogenic mushroom tea? From Cannabis-infused drinks to rose quartz-lined buildings; the pursuit of 15% body fat to taking protein powders with 400 ingredients in them, the modern wellness craze will have us believe that the more of these things we pack into our lives, the healthier we will become.

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A post shared by Zooey Deschanel (@zooeydeschanel) on Feb 19, 2013 at 10:17pm PST

My opinion is that we don’t need to ‘attack’ wellness, and a six-pack isn’t a marker of good health. We don’t need to cram in so many exercise classes that our cortisol levels are through the roof. In fact, I remember Bodyism founder James Duigan saying to me that people would get a much better result if they dropped a few HIIT classes for yoga, because it was placing too much stress on our bodies (stress makes our bodies hold onto fat). We need to take a more measured approach to wellbeing. 'We do not need to be "perfect" to be healthy,' says nutritional therapist Amelia Freer. 'In fact, constantly striving for perfection can be a recipe for creating stress and anxiety around our health, nutrition and wellbeing. Instead, we can choose to embrace the idea of "good enough" - consistency, balance and a dose of common sense go a really long way.' Fitness trainer Mat Roberts concurs: 'People tend to latch onto a thing, whether that’s a bulletproof coffee or a protein mix, but we have to ask what it is really doing for us.'

a person holding a banana © Getty

With regards to the above Instagram post, I’m with wellbeing expert Jasmine Hemsley. 'Understanding ourselves as a whole is so much more than just the physical,' she says. 'It’s important to make choices in our everyday life that reflect the delicate balance of mind, body and spirit to feel a-ok.' My ‘basic list’ for wellness would be this: eat nutritious food made from scratch (but not too much of it); exercise moderately (minimum three times a week); ditch sugar; get out in nature; sleep a lot; laugh often; expand your mind; do what you love, whether that’s spending time with your family or walking your dog. Above all, be yourself. That for me will make you healthier than a spirulina/celery/wheatgrass shot ever could.

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