Balance — by Antonia Magor
What does balance mean?
It seems that “balance” is used a lot in regards to health and nutrition, however the new conversation around balance frames it as another goal that we should all be striving for. The holy grail of nutrition and modern life. There seems to be huge expectation that we have meaningful engagement in our jobs, our hobbies, our homes, our relationships, as well as finding time to fit in all types of self “improvement” like exercise, healthy cooking, meditation and everything else on our to – do lists. To me it appears that achieving and maintaining a constant state of “balance” has become a new health ideal.
In essence balance is a positive concept, not heaving too far either end of a spectrum keeps us centered and avoids unhelpful extremes. However the elements of our life; work/ homelife, healthy/ “unhealthy”, shouldn’t be seen as opposing sides of the scales that we constantly need to manage in symmetry. Balance should be seen as a fluid concept, parts of our lives rise and fall, in tandem, not as individual sets of measures.
Balance & nutrition
In my practice I often see a lot of people feeling guilt around food and consistently trying to “balance out” that brownie they had with a smoothie or “cheat days” with “good” days. However putting our bodies through a cycle of “good” and “bad” places a lot of additional pressure on our systems as well as mentally disordering our relationship with food in the long run. It becomes the opposite of balance to be so consciously focused on it!
I encourage my clients to get to a place where they are well, can embrace and enjoy eating healthily the majority of the time but also not feel guilt about eating foods traditionally seen as “unhealthy”. Accepting that balance is a state of flux means we can move on from the expectation of what finally reaching “balance” will feel like and stop chasing it. We are all individuals and we need to focus on discovering what makes us well.
What does balance mean to me?
Personally balance is a range I can live within and feel well. I don’t claim to be perfect at all! However staying grounded to me comes through good nutrition, sleeping, giving myself time off and controlling my inbox! Balance comes from enjoying food when I want it and not feeling guilt, allowing some overindulgence (especially with Christmas!) and being in the moment.
I have also have found it valuable to discourage comparison. What works for some people doesn’t work for everyone, letting go of those expectations of what you should be able to do helps you focus on looking after yourself.
Why is it such a big topic for women?
I believe balance is such a big topic for women because the focus for women seems to be having it all. Whether that applies to your appearance, health, work, home life, the pressure to be “aspirational” comes from all angles. I also think that women are being targeted with the idea that if we buy this, have that, follow this we will achieve that shining beacon of “balance”. I also think like most things in the health sphere what starts as a positive concept can get inflated and overused until it loses its meaning.
What does it really mean or what should it really look like to have balance in how we nourish ourselves - body, mind, spirit ?
Balance is a little different for everyone. We need to be able to find what works for us individually and without pressure. I think probably true balance is feeling well and in health, not having to be consciously engaged on being balanced.
The word balance can sometimes feel daunting or pressured, like we are MEANT to know how to balance things all the time? I feel like we almost need to reframe that word or replace it with another?
Balance in reality is positive, so it is difficult to replace it. However I do believe we need to be careful about the discussions we place around concepts and words to maintain their integrity. I think we should reframe the conversation around balance, it’s not a goal, it‘s not about getting everything right constantly, it’s about adjusting, educating and moving forward.
Antonia Magor — mBANT, rCNHC, AFMCP
Antonia is a London based Nutritional Therapist registered with the British Association of Nutritional Therapists and a member of the CNHC. Antonia works with individuals on their specific conditions, health goals, or as part of their medical treatment. Focusing on health through diet and lifestyle, Antonia addresses the root causes of conditions and ill health through Nutritional Science. She has great passion for food and the balance between scientific research and giving practical guidance.
She is available for consultations in London or over Skype.