Healthy Eating Is Not the Same as Dieting

What does “healthy” food mean to you? Is it low-calorie, low-fat, low-carb? Is it filling without containing much substance? That’s not healthy food, that’s diet food — and there’s a big difference. Healthy habits are ones you can maintain. When you diet — as in trying to lose weight — your goal is to eat less food, which is something you can’t realistically maintain. Weight loss, by definition, is not a healthy habit. That’s because you’re under-nourishing yourself on purpose to make your body smaller, and that’s not something you can do indefinitely. What is sustainable is healthy eating — losing weight by eating salads and chicken breasts instead of burgers and fries. That plan allows you to eat more vegetables and maybe healthier fats, as well as eating fewer calories than before. Just eating healthier, without making sure you have a calorie deficit, won’t make you lose weight either, and you’ll be disappointed if you expect that it will. On the flip side, you should eat healthy even when you’re not trying to lose weight. What is “healthy” eating? Simple: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, protein, good fats (like those found in plant oils), variety, and not too much added sugar. It’s also important to be able to enjoy some treats without beating yourself up about it. Finally, don’t forget that healthy food should come in large portions, not small ones. What’s the point of having a 400-calorie salad for lunch if you’re just going to get hungry and grab a 300-calorie candy bar later? Do yourself a favor and just eat 700 calories of nutritious food in the first place.