by Steffen Messerschmidt, Naturopathic Doctor, Brisbane, Australia.
In the clinics where I practice, patients frequently report to me that they often only drink alcohol, take drugs or eat certain foods in order to be socially accepted and to fit in.
These days, in many circles, it is socially and culturally acceptable to drink alcohol, take drugs and eat in a way that is not supportive of our bodies and our health, and often makes us feel sluggish and bloated.
But for some, this way of living is recognised as no longer working and they are making different choices such as: not to drink, to quit smoking, go to bed early, to take better care of themselves, live a simple, joyful and loving life showing respect and love towards humanity and to respect others without judgement for their choices.
When they begin to make different lifestyle choices, they feel targeted, condemned or even bullied and find it hard to make the changes they would like to make simply because of the pressure that family, friends, work colleagues and society puts on them.
This does not make sense. Self-loving choices may seem out of the ordinary to some, but from what I witness on a daily basis in my clinics many people can now attest to the benefits they are feeling.
People feel so much pressure, some of which comes from and is perpetuated by the media, to continue to engage in unhealthy and loveless choices. You just have to look at all the advertising for alcohol, junk foods, soft drinks etc. and the daily emails advertising for alcohol specials and free junk food samples and unhealthy choices.
Under the pressure of society that encourages an unhealthy lifestyle, many accept this as a normal way of living without actually stopping and truly feeling if this suits them, if this is good for them and if this actually represents what they truly want to live.
Overall our bodies show lots of signs that the way we are living is not going well, but because of the pressure from all of the above we still give in and carry on with behaviours we know are unhealthy.
Many suffer from the consequences afterwards but can not say NO when it is just that one piece of birthday cake from your niece, the Christmas Dinner your family invited you to, just a glass of sparkling wine on New Year’s Eve, just that cookie or cake because the relative baked it herself, just that piece of chocolate because it is for a raffle for school, just that glass of alcohol because it is your friend’s wedding and so on …
Recently I also heard this one: ‘I know you do this healthy lifestyle thing now and do not drink alcohol but you can just have one glass with me and I will not tell anybody.’ Who needs enemies when you have friends like that!
And at the end of this list would certainly be the statement that it is Un-Australian not to drink alcohol on Australia Day! (1)
Again this list could go on and on and on, but I am sure you know what I mean.
Because of all this pressure we would rather suffer than dare to say ‘No’ to something we know does not feel right for us and is actually damaging our health, as in the end the body has to bear the consequences. How crazy is that?
World health statistics show that we are not getting healthier and we have epidemics in obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, mental illness and many other chronic diseases.
It is time that we as humanity look at our choices, the consequences those choices bring and start to take responsibility for our own health. This begins by saying ‘No’.
Saying ‘No’ is definitely a more healthy choice than giving in to the pressure of peers to persist with an unhealthy lifestyle. Indeed, saying ‘No’ to unhealthy choices is saying ‘Yes’ to yourself, ‘Yes’ to lovingly looking after your health and your body.