"Healthy eating" means different things for everyone, and many diets are complete opposites of each other. Have you ever thought what healthy eating means to you?
As a recipe creator and food blogger, I often say that my recipes are "healthy" and use the hashtag #healthyeating on my Instagram (ahem ahem follow me ahem). But what does "healthy eating" really mean considering there are so many diet and food trends out there?
First off, let me state that I am not a nutritionist or a dietitian. I do not follow any trendy diets. I believe in moderation for everything, including moderation. But I wanted to share my thoughts here and get you thinking about what healthy means for you.
So many diet trends
Have you ever paused to think about all the different diet trends? Vegan, Vegetarian, Pescaterian, Flexitarian, Gluten-free, Atkins, Paleo, Whole30, Keto, Raw, Plant-based, Low-carb, Low-fat, Sugar-free, DASH, Mediterranean, Zone, South Beach, Blood type diet, etc., etc., etc.
Not to mention keeping track of FODMAPS, Macros, and Carbs. That's a lot of food terms to keep up with.
Contradicting food trends
I am not knocking any of these diets. A lot of my recipes fall into these categories naturally. There are many reasons someone would want to follow one of these diets - whether it is to lose weight, to eat more ethically, or to eat in a way that is best for their body.
Do you find it strange that some of these diets are polar opposites of each other?
Vegans and vegetarians don't eat meat, while Paleo is all about meat. People used to be on the low-fat bandwagon in the 80's and 90's, but now sugar and carbs are everyone's enemy (supposedly). Saturated fat causes heart disease according to some people, but others guzzle coconut oil by the gallon.
Paleo and Keto avoids carbs like the plague, but plant-based and vegan diets pretty much require you to eat carbs since meats are off the table. Many people blame gluten for all their problems, while others claim that whole grains and whole wheat are the key to their health.
A lot of vegetarians (and even non-vegetarians) are obsessed with chickpeas and beans, but others avoid FODMAPS for health and wellness reasons.
So clearly there are a lot of contradicting diet trends and food philosophies out there. And somehow many of these co-exist at the same time, which means that people choose how they want to eat.
It seems to me that a diet's popularity depends on its marketing, and diets go in and out of style like fashion. Atkins was HUGE back in the day and now Keto is the next big thing. They're both pretty much the same thing, but one is no longer in fashion because people feel they need something new to latch on to, something that will change their lifestyle this time.
What healthy eating means to me
To me, healthy eating means a good balance of ingredients and nutrients, with a large portion of vegetables. Plus cheese. I can't live without cheese.
I think this blog reflects that quite well. The recipes I post here are real food that we eat every day.
I don't believe in "being good" when it comes to eating, or about feeling "guilty" when I eat something unhealthy. I think food shouldn't be a source of negativity (food is a huge source of joy for me!). I think if you have an unhealthy day, that's OK, just try again tomorrow.
I try to eat a wide variety of vegetables. "Eating the rainbow" is a good way to describe that - many vegetables get their colors from different nutrients, so choosing lots of colorful veggies over the course of a week will make sure you are eating many different nutrients. I also try to eat a combination of raw and cooked vegetables. Raw and fresh veggies have more nutrients (except for a few exceptions, such as lycopene increasing in cooked tomatoes), but I can't get myself to eat salad every day. So if I have to saute collard greens or add some bacon to asparagus, I am OK with doing that in order to eat a larger serving of vegetables.
I try to choose whole grains and other healthy carbs when I can (quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, beans). I eat a lot of chicken and seafood, but also eat red meat once in a while. I cook with coconut oil when I think it will be the best choice of oil for a recipe, but also cook with canola and olive oil, depending on the recipe type and cooking temperature. Sometimes I cook with bacon fat, because it just tastes so good and I don't want to deprive myself. I don't drink soda, but that's because I don't like it. I have dark chocolate, but that is because I prefer it over milk chocolate. When I eat out, I always get the French fries instead of the salad - I can make salads at home any day, so might as well enjoy myself when I am out to dinner.
I think it's important to eat in a way that makes your body feel good. If gluten or fats have a negative effect on your body, then try cutting them out. If raw veggies give you indigestion, then cook them. If a raw diet gives you more energy, then stick to that. If caffeine makes you jittery, skip it. If beans don't agree with your digestive system, then don't eat them.
So with that said, take a minute and think about your diet over the course of a week or a month. Don't overthink every single day, we all have days where we just want to eat double decker stuffed pizza and cake and French fries (in the same sitting). But if overall you are taking in a wide variety of nutrients, fruits, vegetables, and "healthy" carbs, proteins, and fats, you are probably doing OK.
I'd love to hear from you! Let me know what you consider healthy in a comment below. I'd love to hear what kinds of recipes I should create for my readers. And if you found this post helpful or inspiring, please share it on Facebook or save it on Pinterest for later!