What is “healthy” food anyway?

When it comes to eating well, there is a lot of confusion. Everyone seems to have a different opinion about what is “healthy”. Some advocate for avoiding calories, others advocate for minimizing carbs or fat, while others seem to think it’s simply the addition of more fruits and veggies to the diet. The thing is, “healthy” food and “healthy” eating is a whole lot simpler than that.

In my opinion, healthy food can really only be defined as one thing – real food.

Real food is actually really simple;  it’s 1 ingredient. Real food only comes from one of two places; a plant or an animal. Real food is fresh, unprocessed and simple. Real food expires, it does not have a barcode. Real food has stood the test of time and has been eaten for generations. Real food does not have ingredients, real food is ingredients. Real food supports our health, it does not destroy it.

Real food is simply whole food, and whole food IS healthy food. It doesn’t matter what your health goal is, how old you are, or how active you are, the foundation of any good diet merely comes down to the quality of the food that you eat. You can do any type of diet well or you can do any type of diet poorly depending on the quality of food that you eat.

The more ingredients a product contains the further removed it is from real food. So although someone might consider a certain granola bar “healthy”, it is not “healthy” if it contains a laundry list of ingredients including words that are not real food. The difference between real food and processed food is the difference between eating a tomato and eating ketchup, both are made of tomato, but they not the same thing. The same way oatmeal is not the same as an oatmeal cookie, and a chicken breast is not the same as chicken nuggets. Processed food is not healthy food simply because it is not real food. (That is not to be confused with cooking, which is simply combining ingredients, not processing them!)

Distinguishing healthy food from unhealthy food can only be done by determining if the item in question is real food or not. It’s that simple. Healthy food is simply defined as whole food which includes fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, dairy, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and whole grains. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, but foundationally speaking, “healthy” food is simply defined as real food in its whole format, and nothing else.

8 Comments

  1. As a fitness instructor and enthousiast, I eat fairly healthy according to this article, but this definitely helps me to understand and make small changes and also to share this with others . Very simple actually !

    • Thank Helene, I like to this so! Of course, there is a lot more information you can take into account, but the foundation of any good diet (no matter what the type) comes down to the quality of the food that you eat.

  2. Great article. If we could take it a step further though…..if you buy and eat real food that is covered and grown with glyphosate or other harmful pesticides you are not doing your body any favours. We need to buy and eat organic / non-GMO / grass-fed / free range etc. Quality is everything.

    • Thank Jennifer, glad you enjoyed it!
      And yes, I totally hear you on that. It is such a layered discussion with so many angles to cover. At the end of the day, the more you know about your food, where it comes from, etc… the more that you can really make a informed decision that is right for you. For me, the foundation always comes back to whole food and food quality.

  3. So true. When I shop with my wife im always checking labels. The two must important items l check for is trans fats and anything hydrogenated, if there on the list is a no no.
    Then I check the additive list. My wife gets a little upset with me because it takes to long to shop when in with her.

    • I love that, so great! And so important to read the labels, it’s truly the only way to know if something is made with real food or not!

  4. Well written…what you said is so very true. We try to eat healthy by eating real food ( and it tastes better I think) I love your cookbook and have made a few dishes.

    • Well thank you so much, and I couldn’t agree more, it does taste better! And I’m so happy to hear you are enjoying the cookbook, thanks for sharing!

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