What makes a food healthy?

Grocery cart

There was a very interesting article in The Washington Post today that highlighted the difficulty in choosing what to eat because of the difficulty in differentiating between “healthy” and “nutritious” when it comes to food.

As the author ses it, there is no such thing as “healthy” food (or unhealthy for that matter) because the moment a food is labeled “healthy” it goes viral and its reputed benefits are embellished until it is elevated to the status of an urban legend. Consider coconut oil, kale, and chia seeds for example.

This does not sound so bad until you consider that the advertising world has mutated the use of the food adjective vocabulary to the point that cola might now turn up being described as a “non fat beverage” and beef jerky might well be promoted as a “sugar free snack”. Similarly think what a bad review can do to a food – no one ate eggs for a decade after a study concluded that they were high in cholesterol without distinguishing between good & bad cholesterol.

And then there is the case of the nut energy bar manufacturer that was recently told it could no longer describe their product as “healthy” because the fat content in the nuts that they use is too high. Really? I eat this brand every day and I can assure you they are packed with protein and low in sugar.

Apparently I am not the only one who is confused. Roxanne Sukol, a preventative medicine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic stated that “Our food isn’t healthy. We are healthy. Our food is nutritious. I’m all about the words because words are the key to giving people the tools they need to figure out what to eat.”

What it boils down to is this: Only by eating nutritious food can we improve the health that we possess.

Now if we could only agree on what is “nutritious”, doing the grocery shopping would be a lot simpler! But until we do, I suggest you give the following gluten-free, non-dairy chocolate pudding a try. I can’t guarantee that it’s healthy … but it is very chocolaty indeed (g)


Dark Chocolate Pudding:

3 tbsp cornstarch

3 tbsp water

2 cups almond milk

1 tsp vanilla

1/8 cup agave syrup

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

In a small bowl combine cornstarch and water to make a paste. In a saucepan combine all of the ingredients over a medium heat. Add the cornstarch mixture and whisk until smooth. Continue to heat until boiling stirring constantly and then cook and stir 2-3 minutes more until thickened. Divide into 4 dishes and refrigerate.



One response to “What makes a food healthy?

  1. I agree with Sukol about the semantics. I revolt when food is labelled as good or bad. And nutrition is relative although I believe nutrition may be relative to calories, i.e. more nutrition, less calories. But eating isn’t just about nutrition in; it’s also about ambience and emotion and availability. There are those old studies about the babies who were given adequate nutrition but inadequate socialization and failed to thrive.

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