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11 April 2018

When health becomes confusing


By Kevin Gatti
Kevin was previously a personal trainer and involved in the fitness industry. He experienced disordered eating for many years. After seeing the emphasis placed on appearance by people and the impact terminology and conversations have on perception, he is keen to talk about 'health' and how this has become a confusing term for society.

Everywhere you look, there is something mentioned about being healthy or looking healthy. It normally follows something about the supposed dire-straight health epidemics facing society today. Most of the time, there particular body images used in association with the discussion. 

However, with this enormous focus on health, what is “healthy” & what is “not healthy”, there is this whole new wave of health disorders being created. These health disorders come in the form of conditions surrounding disordered eating behaviours, exercise obsession & body image issues.

With this pursuit of becoming what is the idea of healthy & looking like the idea of health gaining such social acceptance & celebration, many disordered behaviours are encouraged & even misinterpreted as being of a healthy nature. We don’t question anyone’s behaviours, or even our own, because they are so normalised amongst friends, family and colleagues. We don’t seem to bat an eyelid at people saying ‘I am going to be good tonight’ in relation to their food choices … WHAT IS GOOD?

Are you counting calories, picking foods & constructing meals for the reason of trying to fit into the ideas of health & ideal body image? Are you spending hours going to the gym for the idea that it is a superior form of activity to something else & in an ongoing attempt to reach or uphold a body image ideal?

It might be worth questioning the current perception of what healthy is and the ideas of what healthy looks like, especially when health does not have one specific body image nor an ideal shape, it comes in many different body shapes. Health is not solely reflected in how you look and the intention to reflect an idea of health, might in fact be causing it’s own mental health concerns.

Maybe the idea of health & body image should no longer be associated together.

Are you feeling confused about 'health' and feel you might be placing an emphasis on body image and diet at the expense of your mental health? Do you relate to any of the above thoughts and behaviours? Here are some things to consider.

  • What is driving you to exercise and eat in a certain way? Is this appearance related or is it for enjoyment and mood?

  • Who are you following on social media? Are they sending mixed messages? Try unfollowing some pages and monitor your mood after doing so.

  • Get reading/ apping - check out some of these books and apps that might be useful 
    - If not dieting, then what? Rick Kausman
    - Smiling Mind
    - Headspace

  • Chat with a friend if you are experiencing concerns, or reach out to our National Helpline on 1800 33 4673.

If you, or anyone you know is experiencing an eating disorder or body image concerns, you can call the Butterfly Foundation National Helpline on 1800 33 4673 (ED HOPE) or email or jump on our website to chat

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