Contrary to popular belief, there is not one definition of "healthy eating." One person may define it based on calories. Still another bases it on carbohydrates...or protein...or fiber...or organics...or how processed the food is...or sugar avoidance...you get the drift.
Even in the world of medical nutrition therapy, there is not one definition. Instead, the ideal diet changes based upon your health goal - lowering blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, improving nausea, reducing diarrhea, promoting weight loss, promoting weight gain.
Counseling teaches you that food (and food beliefs) are incredibly personal (and controversial). Moreover, some people are conservative and rigid in their approach while others float between definitions. When considering where your food beliefs lie, you need to explore the reasons that we eat. Then you can decide what kind of definition to come up with for yourself.
I like to break down the reasons that we eat into 2 categories. We eat for physical reasons (aspects that affect our physical health) and we also eat for non-physical reasons (reasons that have nothing to do with the body).
On top of that, we have a tendency to frame these categories into “good” and “bad”... “healthy” and “unhealthy”... “clean” and “dirty”.... “dieting” and “cheating”. But therein lies the problem.
The non-physical reasons that we eat are NOT WRONG. They are human.
The traditional "diet" (aka, restriction) is usually about eating foods that are only on the physical side of the extreme. This is also what dietitians are traditionally trained to do!
However, when you eat for only physical reasons, you deprive yourself of the types of foods and the reasons you eat that make you human. You can only do that so long before you sling shot to the other side of the extreme and “indulge.” Then you feel so guilty and shamed, that you put yourself back on a “diet.” And the cycle continues.
Healthy eating is about blending these two worlds.
Healthy eating is...
...eating to fuel your body with enough energy
...eating when you are hungry
...stopping when you are satisfied
...eating to celebrate a special occasion
...eating to spend time with friends or family
...enjoying food for pleasure
...enjoying food without guilt
...enjoying food without shame
...feeling physically good after eating
In my practice, the definition of "healthy eating" is about removing judgement and shame. It is about finding the balance between physical and non-physical eating that leaves you feeling emotionally and physically whole and well.
DISCLAIMER: The information presented here is meant to be for general education. If you want individual guidance to reach your unique health goals, please contact me or a local dietitian directly
Dietitian, personal trainer, mother, wife, runner, and triathlete staying healthy one bit and bite at a time