When I read the health brief in this month’s issue that states only one in 10 U.S. adults eat healthy, it got me thinking about what constitutes healthy eating. I should know that answer, right? I mean I publish a health and wellness magazine for goodness sakes; if I don’t know, how can anyone else? The definition of “healthy” is indicative of, conducive to, or promoting good health.
Okay, so the foods I choose must be conducive to good health. It means more vegetables, right? Wait, but what about pesticides? They aren’t healthy. Oh, it must mean a Paleo lifestyle—living like a caveman, right? But I don’t like eating meat. Okay, it means being a vegetarian. Well, maybe, but when I am vegetarian I eat too many carbs. Fruit! Fruit is healthy! Nope, not so black and white; some fruits have an incredibly high glycemic index and therefore are really too high in sugar. So, if meat isn’t good and carbs aren’t good, and fruit is too high in sugar, and vegetables, well they are good but don’t fill me up and often I don’t feel healthy after eating them because they give me gas, especially broccoli (TMI?), then what can I honestly consider to be healthy? And a second important question: Does eating healthy always equate to a healthy weight?
Unfortunately, this letter does not allow for a clear-cut, one-size-fits-all answer. Maybe that’s the point. From someone who has tried every diet and healthy lifestyle ever introduced in her quest to be and feel like the healthiest version of herself, I can firmly state one thing: There is no magic bullet for health or weight. The truth is that sometimes when I focus too much energy on what to eat or what not to eat, I then think about food TOO much. That only makes me want to eat more.
More recently, researchers have defined health as the ability of a body to adapt to new threats and infirmities. Can food help us do this? YES! There are properties in walnuts and various cruciferous vegetables that are known to prevent colorectal cancer, and vitamin D, found in milk and in supplements, is critical for fighting illness.
So, foods can make us healthier versions of ourselves, which is great. But too much of a food can also cause us to feel unhealthy (bringing up the broccoli for me again ☺). Perhaps rather than being so strict with ourselves, we instead adopt a gentler, more forgiving approach of doing the best we can where we are. A nice way to treat our body and mind is by forgoing denial and instead controlling portions—eating less is better for the environment AND is better for us. I am not promoting “starving” yourself, but I am saying that eating until you feel like you are about to puke is not the end goal. Eating to take the edge of your hunger, to sustain, is what I think should be the goal.
This month, we have so many articles to help you determine the best way FOR YOU to go about your healthy eating search. I wish you luck with lowering your portion sizes, playing at Paleo or vegetarianism, or simply adding a food or two each week that has health-promoting benefits.
Kelly Martinsen, Publisher