What is Healthy Food?

The federal government offers extensive recommendations for nutrition. There are thousands of additional sources about healthy eating, widely available, that may or may not agree with the federal guidelines.

Are the federal food guidelines appropriate for all populations?

Should we tell people what to eat?

Sorry, but we believe that the answer to these questions is “no.”

Several shelves full of nectarines and apricots at a grocery store
Fruits are often seen as “healthy” foods | Photo by Elizabeth Layman

There are about 1.8 million species of living beings on earth. Only one of these species struggles with confusion about what the right kind of food is best for its health. Can you guess which species?

If you said, “Humans,” you guessed correctly! Every other species “just knows.” Over the last century, big debates have emerged in Western society about what and how to eat: vegetarian, vegan, low-fat, low-carb, high fat, high fiber, raw foods, low calorie, moderate calorie, fasting, counting chewing, eating slowly. The doctors (and the celebrities) tell us and sell us programs with great passion and confidence, backed up by all kinds of scientific facts and theories about how to be healthy, thin, fit, long-lived, or whatever the top goals are at the moment.

Many new studies come out seeming to contradict the previous ones, and debates about the environment, our compassion for other species, and sustainability add to the challenge. If we could believe in medical science, wouldn’t it be clear and obvious? If “science” is behind these theories, why do they disagree with each other? It’s confusing and frustrating.

It may be that “different strokes for different folks” is true. Certain nutritional programs work better or are healthier for different people or different populations. In the long run, we have to trust our own thinking, try things, and see what happens with our weight, our health, and our happiness.

Federal nutritional guidelines are based on scientific research, but still, they may not be the best for everyone, especially those with chronic health difficulties, such as allergies or chemical sensitivities, and compromised digestive function. Not everyone can eat high fiber, for example, and many people are allergic to dairy products. Read more about food allergies in our food allergy post.

A top-down view of a mason jar filled with freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Many people are allergic to dairy products like cheese | Photo by Elizabeth Layman

Another hugely challenging issue is simply that many people cannot afford to eat or don’t have the assistance to purchase and prepare what federal guidelines suggest. Then, they resort to the cheapest foods just to satisfy their hunger and need for calories. This means highly refined carbohydrate foods, such as sugary foods, pasta, potatoes, white bread, and other fast foods, much of it fried.

We understand that these foods are filling and tasty, but they are not healthy when eaten often. We invite you to use the recipes and resources on this website to incorporate healthier foods into your daily routine. Explore a little and find what works best for you.

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