When it comes to eating well, there is a lot of confusion. Everyone seems to have a different opinion about what is “healthy”. Some advocate for avoiding calories, others advocate for minimizing carbs or fat, while others seem to think it’s simply the addition of more fruits and veggies to the diet. The thing is, “healthy” food and “healthy” eating are a whole lot simpler than that.
In my opinion, healthy food can really only be defined as one thing – real food.
Real food is actually really simple; it’s 1 ingredient. Real food only comes from one of two places; a plant or an animal. Real food is fresh, unprocessed and simple. Real food expires, it does not have a barcode. Real food has stood the test of time and has been eaten for generations. Real food does not have ingredients, real food is ingredients. Real food supports our health, it does not destroy it.
Real food is simply whole food, and whole food IS healthy food. It doesn’t matter what your health goal is, how old you are, or how active you are, the foundation of any good diet merely comes down to the quality of the food that you eat. You can do any type of diet well or you can do any type of diet poorly depending on the quality of food that you eat.
The more ingredients a product contains the further removed it is from real food. So although someone might consider a certain granola bar “healthy”, it is not “healthy” if it contains a laundry list of ingredients including words that are not real food. The difference between real food and processed food is the difference between eating a tomato and eating ketchup, both are made of tomato, but they not the same thing. The same way oatmeal is not the same as an oatmeal cookie, and a chicken breast is not the same as chicken nuggets. Processed food is not healthy food simply because it is not real food. (That is not to be confused with cooking, which is simply combining ingredients, not processing them!)
Distinguishing healthy food from unhealthy food can only be done by determining if the item in question is real food or not. It’s that simple. Healthy food is simply defined as whole food which includes fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, dairy, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, and whole grains. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, but foundationally speaking, “healthy” food is simply defined as real food in its whole format, and nothing else.