Are we all health nuts - and if so, is it still healthy?

Are we all health nuts - and if so, is it still healthy?


Instead of popcorn, use whole grains, mozzarella instead of Nutella, and brain jogging instead of Ecstasy. There's no sugar, but there's a lot more activity. Is life also enjoyable, or is it all about self-control?


I imagine the limbo of Homo Optimus to be something like the fitness center on Hamburg's Alster: On equipment modeled after medieval instruments of torture such as the stretching ladder and the Spanish trestle, collective drudgery, and groaning prevail. Disciplined to the hilt, well-trained people perform masochistic fitness choreographies while hanging and hopscotching. Maybe they're enjoying what they're doing, but it doesn't look like it to me.   

Are we still concerned about our health or do we deserve to be pitied?
Could it be that we're sacrificing more and more of our lives on the altar of the health gods, from the annual fast to the workout that necessitates the slaughter of a pig every time? And who among us still eats sweets without remorse?
Such folks are as uncommon as those who jog for the sake of exercise, at least in my world. We sweat not because we are relaxing in the sun (beware of UV radiation! ), but because we are pedaling for the fitness gods, outfitted with equipment that tracks our body functions as if we were combustion engines rather than human beings.

Are we still health-conscious or already to be pitied? I, for one, put myself through the stress and squeeze exercise into my daily routine three times a week. I give up sweets and fatty foods or gobble them down quickly in the dark in a silly attempt to get the calories past my body before it notices them. And I feel bad when I drink alcohol, which has now also been exposed as carcinogenic. How beautiful and sadly gone are the times when we were persuaded that "a good glass of wine" never did anyone any harm. 

Where have all the euphoria and debauchery gone?
We also teach the kids self-discipline, self-mortification, and snacking. During his summer vacation, my 16-year-old works at his computer researches healthy eating and writes down his discoveries on Post-its that he hangs above his desk as a reminder. He's practically completely devoid of sweetness, at least when it comes to meat.
He refuses alcohol, smoking too, and I'm very happy about that. But at an age when I went through half a pack of cigarettes a day and my mother opened a can of ravioli for lunch because it was fashionable and time-saving (the time saved could be used for more entertaining things than cooking), my son says: No Coke for me, it's unhealthy. And no, he is not a weirdo, he is normal and has friends. But does he have fun? And who else has fun? Even if the beauty of life is not sugar and cigarettes: Where is the experimentation, the exuberance, the euphoria, the crossing of boundaries? 

On the other hand, it's no wonder that even children are becoming health apostles, denying themselves their desire for Coke when they hear about their parents' sugar warnings from bacon-covered baby legs and are later served Buddha Bowls and bulgur burgers by influencers. Even in chewing gum vending machines, those rusty relics of more carefree culinary times, they no longer find colorful chemical balls, but at least in our neighborhood: bee flower seeds. 


Concerns everywhere - where are we headed?
All these developments that make us health-conscious people are good, or let's say healthy. But we should see that we don't lose our zest for life in all the work on our optimization bodies. Especially since Corona has once again helped to ramp up self-control and nip anything debauched in the bud. More than ever, the last year and a half have made us feel what it means to renounce life for fear of death. As philosopher Thea Dorn put it, "We are increasingly placing ourselves under an imperative to do everything we can to live as long as possible in good health," and posed the intriguing question:

If we take care all the time, what is left of what makes our lives valuable and meaningful?
Yes, what is left then? Perhaps not much, because the scientist Barbara Vinken also diagnoses a "dysphoric age." Where there used to be a zest for life, concerns are increasingly spreading. That's why, for example, we also prefer the bathing suit to the bikini: "We're afraid of the sun, we're afraid of other people's looks." I would add: We are afraid of ticks, sugar, wine, and white flour. But fixating on what seems harmful doesn't make us happy - and may even make us sick. Besides, even we super-privileged Europeans: inside now have enough real problems with climate catastrophe and pandemic that we could care less about the white flour content of the waffles at the school festival.   


 

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