Health and Happiness

I expect this could be a divisive topic: the balance between striving for health and having a life that you still enjoy.  For some people, people who have been immensely unhealthy, physically, nothing may seem too difficult to give up if only they can feel better.  For those who have always been moderately healthy but still want to make good choices, it can become a spiraling rabbit hole of “how much is okay, and how much is too much” or “should I even bother when it is all so hard to understand”.  Examples:  I’ve mentioned before that my mom (hi, momma!) has made some major changes in the last year.  For as long as I can remember she has been trying different systems or diet plans to get healthy.  She finally chose a lifestyle (whole foods, plant based diet) that seems extreme to many who eat more “standard” diets: no animal products, no fats, no sugar, no salt.  It has worked beautifully for her and she is really, really happy with it.  For her, every single sacrifice has been abundantly repaid in life quality and happiness.  In fact, she has been so successful that it has become really difficult for her to watch other people not feeling as great as she does, and she is admittedly right down evangelical about the benefits of this lifestyle (as we all sometimes are with anything that makes our lives immensely better).

Alternately, I’ve also mentioned that my husband and I were seriously examining our sugar consumption.  Jason has a strong family history of high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes.  We spent several months doing research, having the “how much is too much” discussion and asking ourselves if it was even a good idea, given the evidence of how bad sugar can be for the human body, to walk that tight rope and consume any at all.  Jason’s final decision for himself was to give up all sugars that are not fruit on a daily basis, and then have a treat a few times a month.  His thought is that he might be marginally healthier if he never, ever had sugar again, but he would almost certainly enjoy his life less without those occasional treats (and the social settings in which they usually occur).  He lost seven pounds in the first month after making that decision, and his recent blood work was fantastic!

I can remember many times in life saying, “I could never give up milk!” or hearing others say “If x made me sick, I’d just have to stay that way, because I cannot live without x.”  Well, I definitely came to the point where my quality of life was improved by giving up the milk I so immensely enjoyed, but I have know others who did in fact refuse to give up something that made them ill because they felt life would be less worthwhile without it.  Not just food here, either. . .I put off finding a new loving home for the cat I was desperately allergic to until I was made aware that it wasn’t fair to my husband for me to hold on to something that made our lives more difficult at a time when he was nearly drowning in the stress of caring for us all.

What about you all.  Where do y’all draw the line between health and happiness.  What are some things you either have given up to be healthier, or held onto despite your (or your doctor’s) best judgement, or because you felt the joys outweighed the detriments?  Also, what are some health changes you’ve considered and maybe given up on because there was just too much conflicting information and it was confusing? (I realize that this discussion could easily veer into the deeper and darker waters of addictions in general, but lets try to keep it on the nutrition side of things for now.)

Penny for you thoughts?