Living in Los Angeles, as I do, it’s impossible not to be inundated by the health advice of privileged people who think they’re smarter than doctors. It’s part of the city’s charm—a blogger is definitely going to tell you how vaginal steaming cured her insomnia. It’s just going to happen. Most of these conversations can be laughed off, but what about the health intel I read online or watch via riveting documentaries like What the Health? that, when taken together, can seem like a mess of contradictions and biased misinformation? Even as a writer in the field, it’s nearly impossible to get an accurate picture of what is and what is not good for me in terms of diet, fitness, supplements and all the rest. Overwhelmed and stressed out by the incessant flow of new and worrisome information, I’ve decided that actually, I’ve held the secret to good health all along. Are you ready to have your mind blown (by someone who is not a doctor, disclaimer, disclaimer)?
Moderation. If you, like me, don’t have the time or resources to figure out which information you’re being fed about health is accurate and which is bogus, which is backed up by legit studies and which has the support of one small body of research in Switzerland, and most importantly, which is right for your body and lifestyle, do like me and just decide you’re not going to commit to anything. Yes, I’ve finally found a way to turn my commitment phobia into a positive. It’s a good day.
Here’s the thing. If you eat animal products every day, that’s probably not optimal for your health, but if you eat them occasionally, meh. Again, I’m no doctor, but according to this study, regular red meat consumption raises your lifetime colon cancer risk by 1%. By way of comparison, sitting all day, every day—as many of us do—increases your cancer risk by more than 1%. After watching the aforementioned What the Health, I cut way back on my consumption of animal products, but I still eat chicken here and there (and I still eat eggs and seafood in moderation). This strategy probably isn’t going to kill me, at least not any more than everything else is.
Similarly, I love macaroni and cheese, and I do not think my health is wrecked by indulging in it from time to time. To be perfectly honest, I had cake for breakfast today. Tonight, I’ll have steamed veggies with quinoa for dinner. It’s all going to be okay.
Think of this approach as being très French. If you’re constantly worrying about what you’re putting into your body, it can be difficult to live life to its fullest in the moment. I love wine, but I make a point of not drinking it every day. I would even go so far as to apply this philosophy to the products I use on my skin—years from now, we might discover that a specific ingredient might be linked to cancer or another disease. (It happened with baby powder, right?) So, I mix it up. I don’t use one thing every day. This simple habit lessens my potential risk without requiring I know everything about everything it’s impossible to know about.
Again, I must reiterate that I’m no doctor. Only you can decide what’s right for your health and sanity. This small hack, however, has transformed the way I think (or worry) about what I put in and on my body. We all know whole foods are best, that alcohol is not a health drink and that we should wear sunscreen when we leave the house. Still, all things, as the saying goes, can be good in moderation … including concern about our health.