Down with Deprivation

I will admit, as I am often forced to do (particularly when confronted with pop culture references), that I shelter myself a bit. The truth is that I can easily lose my footing and own sense of self when I consume too much media. It is hard to distinguish what I want versus what I’m being told to want. It gets confusing and overwhelming. I have to hide, under a rock preferably.

There are some disadvantages to this strategy, namely that I stare blankly when people refer to something of which everybody else in the world is aware. I watch TV shows about four years after everybody else. There are also a number of advantages. I have started to look at certain situations from well outside of the popular conception. Sometimes I forget how far out there I am.

Health and wellness are concepts that I have come to think of very differently than the most commonly held notions. I realized this recently when I was struggling with why I was having a hard time convincing people that healthy changes are positive. Then it clicked. I started listening to why my clients didn’t want to make these changes. They would have to give something up, make sacrifices, fight cravings and urges. In short, they didn’t want to feel deprived. I don’t blame them one bit.

I don’t think health is about deprivation at all. I can see now that when most people think of healthy eating they think of counting calories, giving up delicious foods, and feeling hungry. I’ve been there too. It’s no fun. Now I think of healthy eating as consuming real, tasty, quality foods, not products developed in laboratories. Food that provides good fuel and does not leave me with cravings and feeling energy-deficient. Something with substance that leads to satisfaction. In short, I think healthy food is the opposite of deprivation. It is filling and wonderful.

It is the same thing when talking about emotional health. My clients think about what bad habits they must give up. They worry about experiencing pain should they allow their genuine feelings to emerge. I’m often thinking very differently. I think about the damage that’s done when we suppress our emotions and choose numbing over feeling. I’m thinking of ways to have quality relationships, real feelings, valuable life experiences. Emotional wellness is about being immersed in rich sensations. For me, it’s all about authenticity. It’s about allowing yourself to be real, feel real feelings, express real thoughts.

There seems to be a connection between artificiality and deprivation. How have we become convinced that “junk” food is fulfilling and that real food is depriving? When did we start believing that status, stuff, and appearance is more important than connectedness, purpose, and contentment? I think health is really our most fulfilling and natural state of being.

What associations do you have with the word “healthy”? Where do you think you learned this?


  1. A Student Mom

    Awesome point. I have to say, we fasted for lent and chose to give up meat (all of it – it’s remarkable how many people follow that statement with , “Oh, so you’re just eating fish and chicken then?” How are those not meat?) I digress. The point is, without Lent I would never have given up meat, and never have discovered that my body is happier without it. I have reintegrated chicken and fish, and the occasional red meat, but I much prefer to leave red meat alone – it doesn’t agree with me at all.
    Sometimes we just need to see that something isn’t that difficult – like over a month of cooking without meat made me realise that it’s entirely possible and doable!!! And who knew Mac n Cheese had no meat?! It took Lent for me to discover that I eat a whole whack of meat-free foods already, so it’s not actually such a difficult thing to start to eat more healthily. Also… fruit smoothies for breakfast – I definitely have my 5 a day now.

    • Hannah

      I think health is all about what works for you. Knowing your body and doing what feels the best. Emotional health is like that too. You have to know ways to express yourself, manage feelings, handle relationships that feel the best for you. Thanks for your comment!

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