Merriam Webster defines healthy as; 1) free from disease or pain, 2) showing physical, mental, or emotional well-being, 3) beneficial to one’s physical, mental, or emotional state. I would go further in this definition of healthy to include “beneficial to one’s environment and community”, because that so immediately surrounds and influences us (think food, air, mental and emotional state etc.).
Let’s examine this definition in terms of “healthy food”, which has been completely obfuscated and upended by mixed messages from media, the medical community and other non-medical entities that want you to not trust what you already know, and therefore sell you things. But you know what healthy food is. It’s simply real food. Don’t let people who want to sell you unneeded things confuse you. The more confusion, the more money can be made selling magic bullets, diets and programs. Writer Michael Pollan has summed up my approach on healthy food succinctly: “Eat Real Food. Not too much. Mostly vegetables”.
Break it down…
Real Food = less processed. Processed means chemically treated in a way that prolongs its shelf life and therefore it’s inedibilty to microorganisms, which, by the way also live inside you and help you digest your food. Processed food is found in the center of the grocery store , usually encased in plastic or cellophane or other types of packaging and has lots of sugars, preservatives, and trans fats to disguise the flavor of the shelf-life prolonging chemicals.
Not too much = moderation and portion control. Basically eat slowly, chew a lot, and stop when you’re full. Drinking water helps too.
Mostly vegetables = Foods that have excellent mixtures of fiber, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins and phytochemicals mixed with lower amounts of carbohydrates to sustain healthy human bodies and lower disease risk. “Mostly vegetables” also means fats and proteins have a place, but they are just not center stage in a healthy diet.
Eating this way means lower amounts of sugar (in all forms, pure, simple and complex carbohydrates), fat and salt, and also means higher amounts of food that will allow your health span to equal your life span.
***my pet peeve: as per AHD: “Some people insist on maintaining a distinction between the words healthy and healthful. In this view, healthful means “conducive to good health” and is applied to things that promote health, while healthy means “possessing good health,” and is applied solely to people and other organisms. Accordingly, healthy people have healthful habits.” I use healthy and healthful interchangeably. In fact I never use the word healthful. I find it too precious. But that’s just me.