Wondering: What does wellness mean to you?

By Jenni Wolf

Have you noticed the term ‘wellness’ being used more often lately?

On packaging, in advertisements, on social media, in the news? I can think of several companies and products that have swapped out an old name or tagline to include the new “wonder word.”

Wellness marketing, the advertising of products and services with the promise of good health, is on the rise — and for good reason. We want to be well, who wouldn’t?

But are those claims and promises actually true? Or are they just a way to get us to contribute more to the ever-growing wellness industry?

The global wellness industry brought in $5.6 trillion in 2022, up more than 64% in just 10 years. And the market is expected to grow by another 57% by 2027.1, 2

Let’s pause to reflect on what wellness means to us as individuals, so we better discern what we are looking for in this vast market.

What do you want to prioritize when it comes to your wellness? Wellness is often defined by eight dimensions: physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, vocational, financial and environmental wellness.

When I think about my own wellness goals, I pick a few categories to focus on. And because I am a dietitian, I find it helpful to focus on physical wellness, which encompasses food and nutrition habits.

Being fed and nourished makes it a lot easier to concentrate on all the other wellness dimensions because your emotional regulation and cognitive functioning are better.

So, what does wellness mean when it comes to food and nutrition? As a dietitian I would tell you it means eating in a timely and frequent manner throughout the day. It means eating all of the food groups at most meals and respecting your hunger and fullness cues. It means drinking adequate fluids each day, taking vitamins and minerals that might be difficult for you to get enough of, enjoying your food and being flexible with food choices.

But if you asked me as an individual, my definition of wellness might differ or be more specific. I might choose to purchase more frozen vegetables if I struggle to prepare fresh ones before they spoil.

And my sister might do the exact opposite because she has more time to cook fresh vegetables and does this regularly. So, it might be a helpful and “well” choice for her to purchase a produce subscription box.

But that wouldn’t be a choice that currently supports my wellness needs. Instead, I would forgo clicking on the ads that infiltrate my inbox or social media feed and, instead, go to my local store and score a couple bags of frozen peas.

Nutrition and health are personal and full of nuance, and the same goes for wellness choices. Don’t get caught up in the term, the appealing colors and fonts, or the promises. Instead, step back and check in with yourself to see what are your actual wellness needs.

I hope this encourages you to move forward with the things that are going to best support you.

Cheers to being well! 

Jenni Wolf, a registered dietitian, writes about food and nutrition for the Bugle.

Photo credit: A variety of foods can contribute to wellness. Photos by Jenni Wolf.

Sources

1 Rappaport, Sarah. “The Global Wellness Industry is Now Worth 5.6 Trillion.” Bloomberg. November 09 2023. bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-11-09/the-global-wellness-industry-is-now-worth-5-6-trillion

2 The Global Wellness InstituteTM. globalwellnessinstitute.org

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