Is This Healthy…or Not?

I think the question I am asked most often is “Is this healthy or not?”

The “this” can be anything that is making the person doing the asking doubt herself. Pasta? Protein bars? Crystal Light? Baked potato chips? Baked potatoes? Special K? Egg yolks? Pineapple? Ketchup?

We’ve become so confused about what is healthy and what isn’t that we’re throwing up our hands in collective despair and ordering a pizza instead.

To help clear the clutter, here’s what I think.

1 – There’s no one definition of healthy. What works for you may not work for me and vice versa. Determining what is healthy for you is a matter of trying things and paying attention to what makes you feel satisfied and vibrant…and then doing more of that! (If you don’t believe me, consider the impact of food allergies. My ideal food could literally kill someone else. There is no universal answer here.)

2 – Having a starting point is helpful. As a starting point, what works for me and for many of my clients is clean (minimally processed) food with a balance of vegetables and fruits, high fiber carbohydrates, lean proteins, and unsaturated fats. And some chocolate for good measure. :0) Most of us don’t eat enough plants and the single biggest thing we can do to improve our health is to eat more of them. Start there. (I am willing to bet you are getting enough protein despite what the media would have you believe!)

3 – Math is overrated (in this case). If we let healthy eating degenerate into some sort of warped counting game of fat grams and carbs and net carbs and calories and sugar and protein…we put the emphasis in exactly the wrong place. We need to eat with our bodies, not our brains. And then we need to PAY ATTENTION to how our bodies respond to the food we choose. Good outcomes = do more of that. Bad outcomes = do less of that. If you’re not getting the outcomes you want, change the inputs until you do.

4 – You don’t have to be perfect to be healthy. Sometimes I think we get caught in a game of trying to find the perfect meal, the perfect cereal, the perfect snack. But there is no perfect answer. There are thousands of really good answers. I advocate eating many things in moderation and nothing to excess.

5- Eating is a pleasure. Let’s keep it that way! If you suck all the pleasure out of the experience, it can’t possibly be healthy in the long term. Eat things you love that love you back. The rest will fall into place.

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