Healthy life – by Miss Nederland 2020 Denise Speelman

A healthy life… What does that mean, and when do you really live healthily?

Products like quinoa, oat milk, soya beans or chia seeds, for example, have become ever-present. Every coffee shop, lunchroom or restaurant has vegan, vegetarian, or detox dishes on the menu. You almost start thinking: if I don’t choose one of these options, am I not
eating healthy? But a healthy life does not mean eating lettuce every day, exercising four times a week, or eating carrots with hummus as a snack. The key to healthy lifestyle is actually very simple: Balance!

We regularly inspire and motivate each other in this area, but often in the wrong way. Because when we talk to each other about being healthy the subject is often dieting. And I don’t think we know what we’re getting into when we start a ”diet”. Meal replacements
such as shakes and weight loss pills come to mind. To be honest I always feel worried when someone wants to live ”healthily” or feel better about themselves through these methods.

How much do we actually know about healthy lifestyles? And why can’t we do that within our normal diet, with a cheese sandwich or chocolate sprinkles?

Miss Nederland 2020 Denise Speelman

There are countless articles in magazines, on the internet or social media about how to lead a healthy lifestyle. Of course, certain things have been researched and proven. Yet it works differently for everyone. Suppose you are advised to eat more avocados because they contain many healthy nutrients and are good for your skin. But what if you are allergic to them? Then you have to find other foods to be healthy. What I mean to say is that everyone has a different level of health, you don’t have to eat lettuce every day or do what everyone else does.

I innocently started on my ”healthy life” journey about six years ago, or at least I thought so. Partly because I was very insecure, and not mentally strong enough, I looked for something I could be good at, something I felt confident in. I turned out to be very good at controlling
food and sport, especially not eating enough or not eating at all. I searched the internet for information, tips, and healthy recipes. I observed what others were doing who were working on a healthy lifestyle, like top models, fit girls, the people who I thought were ”healthy” or
”most fit”. What do they eat and how do they exercise? But, why would you want to know how many kcal someone else eats in a day, how many squads they do, or how many laps they run? It shouldn’t make you feel better or worse about yourself!

I thought if I followed all these ”rules”, I would lose weight and stay slim and I would be healthy! But it turned out the opposite was true… and I ended up getting diagnosed with an eating disorder. I had lost 10 kg, my periods did not start and I had heart palpitations. At my lowest point I weighed 61 kilos with a height of 1.85m, which is anything but healthy. I spent a year in therapy to get my weight back up. Once I had a healthy BMI, I had to move on and pick up my normal life again. That is where the real recovery process begins. This took at least four years; you must really find your balance again and figure out how to live a normal and healthy life.

You cannot judge how healthy or unhealthy someone is by only looking at the outside. Size and weight say nothing about health. It is about much more. Only you know what is good for your body and you must listen to what it tells you. That’s how I discovered that a healthy
lifestyle is quite a broad concept. Besides your diet it’s also in about how well you take care of yourself.

Mental health is connected to physical health.

We often forget that our body endures quite a lot in a day. We work a lot, experience stress, do a lot of sports, keep the house in order or look after the children. Your body needs you just as much as you need your body. That starts from the moment you wake up when you make your first cup of coffee! Give your body what it needs and what it asks for.

The most important thing you need is balance. Make sure you eat healthy food that gives you enough energy for the day, but also food gives you joy every now and then. Like chocolate! Your body needs a mix of everything, like vitamins and fibres, but also all those delicious often labelled ”unhealthy” things. It is only unhealthy if you eat too much of it. Look for balance and enjoy life because that is also big part of a healthy lifestyle.

Don’t force yourself to do anything but give yourself plenty! If your body radiates from the inside, it will radiate from the outside as well :).

Photographer: Evianne Wiegers

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