Do you have health-esteem issues?

Sarah Ranawake

No, the headline isn’t a typo. I did mean to say health-esteem issues not self-esteem issues.  Wondering what the hell health-esteem is? While you might not know the term, when I explain it I’m guessing many of you will be pretty familiar with its effects. I know I am.


Health-esteem is basically a clever term coined to describe the impact the health-is-cool movement has had upon each of us personally. To paraphrase a quote I gave when Bianca and I were featured in The Australian clean living has is now more hip than hippy.

Overall, the fact that health has become cool is incredibly awesome. It’s a driving factor behind the popularity of Sporteluxe and I love that so many celebs like Miranda Kerr now talk about meditation and organic food.

When you have positive health-esteem you feel a sense of humble pride and achievement about the fact you’re making empowered choices in terms of your wellness and fitness. However, health-esteem can go awry when you start defining your sense of worth based on how many likes your smoothie or yoga backbend photo gets on Instagram. Or worrying that your healthy friends might look down on you if you order something to eat that doesn’t adhere to your usual paleo food philosophy.

In my case, I must admit to having a tinge of doubt about whether people might judge me when I revealed my decision to start eating organic meat after years of being a pescatarian in my last Stylish Wellbeing post.

The people you follow on Instagram can also contribute to negative health-esteem if you’re not careful. Not too long ago I did an Instagram audit. Actually, to be honest, it was more of a cull than an audit. I basically pressed unfollow on a bunch of glorified bathroom selfie fitspo accounts that served no purpose other than making me feel crap about myself. After all, if you don’t inspire or entertain me why should I invite you into my phone (and headspace) everyday?

In extreme cases, negative health-esteem issues can develop into something much more serious. A couple of years ago, back when I was working at CLEO, I interviewed a woman who was recovering from orthorexia nervosa. A clinically diagnosed eating disorder, orthorexia basically means having an extreme obsession with healthy eating. I’ll never forget talking to this woman. She told me she knew her healthy eating had gotten out of hand after she broke down in tears stressing about going to her brother’s birthday dinner at a Thai restaurant. The reason? There was nothing on the menu she was ‘allowed’ to eat, even with modifications. Her healthy eating obsession had overshadowed the fact that the whole point of the event was not the food, but spending time with the people she loved.

While this is an extreme case it does bring home the fact that healthy eating should enhance your life. Not be yet another thing for you to stress about. That’s why all the content on Sporteluxe is designed to be inspirational but, even more importantly, inclusive and positive. We do stories like Larina’s series about the best things to order when you eat out, at an Italian or Japanese restaurant for example, because we want to give you expert health insights that fit in with your life. We hope coming to our website, or seeing our images pop up on your Insta feed, empowers and uplifts you. We aim to inspire you be the best version of yourself. Because, really, that’s what positive health-esteem is all about!

Sare x

Photography by Heidi Boardma
Hair and make-up by Katie Goerlach