May 2, 2016

Wellness Movement Musings

I don’t know about you, but I have to say that this whole natural wellness movement can be a bit overwhelming sometimes. It feels like I need to have a degree in biochemistry and be well-versed in scientific terminology in order to get through the grocery store. And then there are those inevitable conversations where someone’s talking about_________ (insert trendy wellness word here) and I’m standing there with a slightly glazed look in my eyes and maybe even drooling a little from my slack mouth as I try to pretend I have any idea what they’re talking about. And then once I actually take time to Google what they were talking about and finally start to get my mind around it, the trend has changed and that product or antioxidant or whatever is passé or even dangerous to use. Kind of makes me feel like: someone just pass me those olestra-laden, trans-fat riddled, tartrazine soaked, MSG -flavoured bag of powdered cheese goodness and leave me alone. Amiright?

I mean, we all try to do the best we can for our families but it can be so hard to know what the right thing to do is when there is so much contradictory information, or esoteric information only available to health nuts who have some cosmic inside track that we have woefully missed. It feels like that there is no definitive right here. There aren’t even any safe words to cling to. Like organic. Just because it’s organic doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Or non-GMO. GMO’s are feeding the world. And we can hiss at Monsanto and choose to buy only GMO-free products because we are first world and have that luxury, but at the end of the day, our planet is so populated that there just isn’t enough farmable land to feed everyone locally, with heirloom vegetables. There just isn’t.

And don’t even get me started on buzz products like agave nectar, spirulina, matcha, adaptogens, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. These terms become essential for you to be familiar with in order to place yourself on the trend meter as in: oh my gosh, you don’t use_________(insert trendy wellness product here)??? I use it all the time and it’s totally cured my __________ (insert malady, skin condition, or potentially fatal disease)!! And if you don’t know the product or don’t use it, you’re left feeling like you’ve failed at life and maybe everyone looks down at you because they saw your car in the McDonald’s drive thru last week and no one is buying your story that you just made a wrong turn and that it wasn’t you reaching out your window to accept your super-sized everything (not that that’s ever happened to me or anything…).

Even my Netflix history reads like a book: line after line of documentaries on food and environment and how the environment affects our food. It gets to the point that sometimes I get depressed just looking at my history. And when I get a scrape or cut, I find myself frozen in contemplation, like, do you think I could put tea tree oil on it neat? or would I be poisoning myself? I suppose I could Google it, or ask at the health food store. But, I don’t know, sometimes I just can’t be bugged. I don’t want to have to wade through random people’s opinions to find that nugget of truth. And it’s frustrating because I wish there was some definitive answer that everyone could have access to. That it wasn’t about making informed decisions or subscribing to some diet-lifestyle camp. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if there was a set of rules everyone followed and you knew that doing it meant your kids would grow up healthy and strong, that you would be healthy and strong and your skin would look amazing and your hair would be shiny??

wellness movement musings. Keeping it real in a trendy world.

Keeping it real in a wellness obsessed world

My husband brought me a giant bag of stevia home from Costco. He loves going to Costco and bringing home enormous bags of things. I think it makes him feel manly and tough, hauling around these neighbourhood-sized packages of things that I need to buy a shed for just to house until I’m ready to use it. So, now I have a lifetime supply of stevia. Stevia, which you only need a tablespoon of for an entire cake. I don’t use stevia. I don’t understand it. I can’t get my mind around how you only need so little to make something sweet. I’ve tried. I’ve substituted it into my regular recipes. And let me tell you this: direct substitutions don’t work. Everything I’ve made with it ends up kind of rubbery and bland. I understand sugar. I’ve had a lifetime of understanding it: how much to use, how it works, what to expect. Stevia though: I’m lost. And with all new fangled things, I get a little worried. What happens in 30 years when scientists discover that stevia is dangerous, like they did with asperatame? I know, stevia is natural, aspertame isn’t, but what if??  I have this giant bag of stevia that I have to do something with. And I don’t want to be the only sucker not using stevia if it’s actually awesome and will revolutionize my life. This is when you know your life has reached the apex of first world problems. The fact that I have time to ponder the role of stevia in my life probably means I have too much time on my hands. Even worse is that I’ve now dedicated an entire paragraph to it.

This giant bag of stevia taking up prime real estate in my panty has become a definitive icon of how I see the trendy aspects of the wellness movement. It’s there, using up square footage that I would rather fill with something I actually use. I don’t particularly want it, but at the same time I worry that maybe I should want it and what’s wrong with me that I don’t want it. And I feel like the outsider in high school, desperately wanting to be wanted by the cool kids. Like, of course I should like stevia, I mean, it’s a zero calorie sugar replacement that will change the way my body makes glucose. Yet, here I am, holding my little bag of sugar instead, alone, in a corner.

I think, in our desire to be healthier, happier, and more conscious of what products we use, we can sometimes get caught up in the trends and lose sight of our original reason. It becomes another way to keep up with the Jones’, so to speak. Not only are we trying to have the nice car, great clothes, and perfectly styled homes, we also have to compete to have the healthiest, greenest, most unique way we feed and monitor the health of our family. How overwhelming. If we spent as much time considering the whys and whats of our own wellness choices, imagine what we could accomplish!

My Own Personal Wellness Movement

Sometimes it’s easy to forget why I chose to clean up my family’s life. I get caught up in the trends, or the curious jealousy that comes with the knowledge that perhaps someone is doing something better than me. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like I’m doing enough, or maybe that I’m enough. But you know what? That bag of stevia in the back of my pantry has inspired me. It’s inspired me to stop worrying, to stop letting myself feel like less than because I don’t always incorporate trends in my family’s diet just because they’re so hot right now. I may not have gourmet smoothies every morning. I may not take supplements with cool names I can’t pronounce. I might not even always live perfectly clean, but you know what? That’s okay with me. I am choosing to live in a place where I eat less meat, and way more vegetables. Of where I remove the chemicals I understand, and learn more about the ones I don’t. Of where I embrace whole grains, and always, ALWAYS aim for homemade. As for everything else: it’s a work in progress. But for me, keeping it simple is the only way I know how to be.

PS-I have a giant bag of barely used stevia if anyone’s interested.


  1. Denise Walker - 1 year ago

    Marvelous! I loved every word and agree 100%. I have spent my entire adult life trying to eat properly, exercise, avoid all foods processed and chemically enhanced, I raised my child on home made everything (!) and then, one day in aerobics – bang, an aneurysm ruptured in my brain. No amount of healthy anything could have stopped that! God’s grace and skilled medical personal saved my life and gave me the chance to look at life one day at a time! I don’t have to be super-mom or the perfect wife anymore. We still eat organic, I still make my own nut butters, I refuse stevia, we still use only raw sugar and we buy all our vegetables at the local farmer’s market. The only major residual from brain surgery subsequent to the aneurysm was the loss of some cognitive ability so all the new wellness data that becomes popular is lost on me! Thank you, again for an excellent article and keep your recipes and ideas coming! Denise

    • Jen - 1 year ago

      Well, I don’t know what to say. You made my weekend, heck, you made my 2017 with your kind words! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! What a great story! (I mean, totally terrifying and horrible, but, WOW!) I think sometimes people overthink it, and it’s just so much pressure. I’m glad you’re healthy, strong, and making great choices for you and your family. (and all that new wellness data probably isn’t worth thinking about anyway!) 😉

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