I love hearing how different people define healthy eating. For some it means eating the right amount of calories to fit in a certain jeans size. For others it means cutting out carbohydrates after 5:00pm. I’ve never written out an exact definition for what healthy eating means to me, but if I had to, I’d imagine it would look something like this:
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
Brilliant. Insightful. Not my words. But Michael Pollan said it so well- why try and one up him?
I might also add in a little something about balance, because I’m certainly not one to say no to nachos. 😉
Anyways, this thought brought me to today’s topic: Healthy vs Low Calorie.
I believe most people incorrectly use these words interchangeably. I can’t tell you how many people have tried to tell me that fruit isn’t healthy because it’s high calorie and pure carbs. They are usually the same people that tell me that a McDonald’s cheeseburger is healthy because it’s only 300 calories. My conclusion is that everyone likes to rationalize their choices.
When I try to guide people into making better food choices, I define ‘healthy’ as food that is:
- in or close to it’s natural state
- provides your body with natural nutrition
- minimally processed
- has a short ingredient list of items your can pronounce
Now, one may try to argue that the above cheeseburger fits some of these healthy criteria, but let’s take a closer look at what is in the cheeseburger:
100% Beef Patty
100% pure USDA inspected beef; no fillers, no extenders. Prepared with grill seasoning (salt, black pepper).
Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, enzymes), water, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, yeast, soybean oil and/or partially hydrogenated soybean oil, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, wheat gluten, ammonium sulfate, ammonium chloride, dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl lactylate, datem, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated monoglycerides, monocalcium phosphate, enzymes, guar gum, calcium peroxide, soy flour), calcium propionate and sodium propionate (preservatives), soy lecithin.
Pasteurized Process American Cheese
Milk, water, milkfat, cheese culture, sodium citrate, salt, citric acid, sorbic acid (preservative), sodium phosphate, artificial color, lactic acid, acetic acid, enzymes, soy lecithin (added for slice separation).
They did OK on the beef… but that’s where it ends.
This may mean that my favorite wrap (about 500 calories)
ends up being higher in calories than a Chick-fil-a Original Sandwich (430 calories)
But I don’t see how anyone could argue that Chickfila is healthier.
And the wonderful thing is that a LOT of healthy foods just so happen to be low in calories (like VEGGIES)- wahoo! And the two definitions can happily co-exist.
…But I don’t think you should be scared of an avocado because it’s high fat content and choose the low fat, no flavor, processed American ‘cheese’ slice instead.
What are your thoughts on healthy and low calorie?