A co-worker of mine frequents McDonalds (the other time he had it 3 times before breakfast) and keeps a giant jar of peanut butter in his cubicle drawer. It has become an office joke that “B hit up McDonalds again,” so the other day after laughing along with us he said “Okay, but what really is healthy food?”
Good question, right? How do you sum up healthy food without listing out healthy options?
Here was my brief answer for him: Healthy food is nutrient dense vs. calorie dense. My best example is an apple vs. a brownie. An apple is a low-calorie snack that is packed full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. A brownie is a higher-calorie snack that has virtually no nutritional benefits. Yes, you may get some calcium from the milk used in the chocolate used in the brownie, but the ratio of calcium to sugar and fat is very low.
We want to view our food as our fuel. Everything we eat should have multiple benefits–it should not just be something we eat to eat or to satisfy a craving or a pang of hunger. When making your food choices each day, choose the food item that will satisfy your bodies needs far after the taste and the immediate gratification goes away.
So, what is healthy food? Healthy food is fuel that is nutrient dense and low in saturated fats, trans fats, sodium, and sugar. That’s a very brief description, but for the general public, it can go a long way.