In today’s episode, we’ll explore about Healthism-Wellness Culture 101 with Dana Sturtevant-Be Nourished
(Warning: EXPLICIT CONTENT)
Healthism is a term new to most of us, and especially to our non-diet coaching clients.
Healthism can be defined as the preoccupation with personal health as a primary focus for the definition and achievement of well-being; a goal that is to be attained primarily through the modification of lifestyles.
When I first read on healthism 6 or 7 years ago, I refute the concept. I thought it was my duty and the duty of all humans to do everything they could to be healthy…. that was my profession at the time. To motivate, push, and teach my clients to pursue health at all costs.
The Dark Side of Healthy Living
The truth is when I first encounter healthism and Health At Every Size, I was knee-deep in wellness culture. I had recently realized that diets didn’t work and traded my pursuit of thinness for a more politically correct journey, “the pursuit of optimal health”.
For the last 25 years, I had dieted, controlled food, & exercised obsessively, lost and gained weight- always to come back to the same point.
The pursuit of health seems like the most logical option … if I’m healthy, I’ll lose the “unhealthy weight”.
I studied every branch of alternative health medicine, in the hopes of finding what was wrong with my health so that I could finally be healthy “inside and out”.
Obsessing about finding a solution that would unlock health, I spent thousands of $ in education, training, testing, and flying around the world to consult with health experts, cleanses, supplements, detoxes, etc.
Judging myself for not being as healthy as it was possible, I was in a “healthy battle” with my body. I was going to force my body into the health status that I thought was going to be my best life.
Healthism: Diet Culture Upgraded Version
Healthism is in a way the upgraded version of Diet Culture. Instead of judging people based on their “thinness”, it judges folks based on their health.
Healthism judges people’s worth according to their health instead of weight. It holds health as something that everyone should value and attain just like “thinness” or “healthy BMI”.
Healthism judges people based on their desire to attain health and their efforts towards attaining health. It believes it is one person’s duty to work hard to strive for health. If you are not doing so, there’s something wrong with you.
Healthism, just like diet culture uses guilt and shame in an effort to “motivate” people to work harder to achieve better health.
Healthism believes that health is the sole responsibility of the individual and says that a person’s health is based on their decision and behaviors.
Just like I, Diet Culture sees bodyweight as an outcome of one’s decisions and behaviors.
Healthism completely disregards the many other determinants of health including inequality, access to healthcare, trauma, oppression, genetics, etc… again, just like diet culture.
The Solution Is Body Trust
My ill pursuit of health lasted 4 years. At the beginning of my forties, I realized that what I was really chasing for the last 30 years wasn’t going to come as a result of a thinner body or optimal health…
The thing that I was chasing was never going to be caught because it was already here. In other words, I had it within me all this time.
I was worthy right here, right now. My self-worth was never going to be a result of what my body looked like or how healthy it was. I was born worthy.
Today, I’m on a journey now of rebuilding a relationship of trust, respect, and neutrality with myself and my body.
Healthism: The Desire to be Healthy Gone Wrong with Dana Sturtevant
In this episode of the podcast, we will explore the ramification of healthism with an expert in the topic, Dana Sturtevant.
Dana Sturtevant is the co-founder of Be Nourished, LLC. She is a registered dietitian, educator, and trainer whose work focuses on humanizing health care.
She co-founded and is a co-creator of Body Trust®— a strength-based, trauma-informed, scientifically grounded healing modality that encourages movement towards a compassionate, weight-inclusive model of radical self-care to address body oppression, heal body shame and associated patterns of chronic dieting and disordered eating.
What you’ll learn listening to this episode on Healthism-Wellness Culture 101:
- What is healthism
- How does healthism show up in day-to-day life
- How can we sit with health uncertainty
- Body Trust as a solution
- How body trust is disrupted by trauma, weight stigma