By: Sierra Aceto

This is Do You Mind?, a series where I ponder and reflect over many mindfulness practices, what they mean and how to apply them. As the self-care and self-love revolution is on the rise, I hope to make you wonder, do you mind?

Healthy living is never a constant. Neither the definition of healthy nor the concept of it have ever been constant for more than a few years at a time. The food industry is frequently changing, and so are our taste buds, the foods we enjoy and our willingness to indulge in the foods we’ve been told we enjoy “a little too much.”

Ultimately, life is a short endeavor in relation to the age of the earth, and if we are so consistently marketing happiness as the end goal, shouldn’t we try to pursue it in our everyday life? If that happiness means eating a bowl of ice cream, an entire box of movie popcorn or exclusively pasta salad for a whole day, then so be it.

There is something to be said for offering ample opportunity for our youth to make healthy and active choices. Often, the foods and activities we end up loving as adults reflect the variety of options we were provided as children.

However, there can be a harsh detriment to our youth’s mental health when marketing messages tell them they are worth less because of what they eat or how they look.

In the age of body positivity, I err toward self-love and unconditional acceptance of bodies of all sizes, with only one condition: that their chosen life and dietary habits bring them fulfillment and joy.  

From personal experience, I will also vouch for the wonders of feeling brighter and more energetic after eating a hummus wrap or a hearty salad. I also pursue the marvelous endorphin rush from climbing or running or dancing or any kind of sweat-inducing activity.

With the flood of contrasting information on what is healthy and how to be healthy, it gets easily confusing to meet the contemporary health standards. How do we determine which is “better” or what is “right?”

Why does the diet industry make it seem like it’s a contest between being happy or being healthy?  Should we really draw such a stark line between healthy and unhealthy? What about the ever-distant goal of happiness?

Perhaps instead of being a goal, happiness can be a choice, a flowing state that comes and goes. In my experience, it happens to be affected by any balance or imbalance in my eating choices.  Maybe for you, it doesn’t matter so much, and that deserves to be just as acceptable and beautiful.

Whatever mindset or path you choose to follow, I hope you check in to make sure it matches your energy first before it meets anyone else’s healthy lifestyle expectations.

Perhaps by working on improving our body image and our relationships with food, we can find our own “healthy” — and maybe our own happy, too.

Behavioral Medicine at BU Student Health Services offers confidential counseling for mental health and is available 24/7 for emergencies. You are not alone. Behavioral Medicine is here for you. Call 617-353-3569 to make an appointment.