When people say they are practicing “eating healthy” and/or “healthy eating,” they probably think they are talking about the same thing. For the most part, sure, there does not seem to be much difference to be interpreted.
Eating healthy is basically eating the foods that provide more positive health benefits than negative health benefits. Usually, these include fruits and vegetables, whole grains and whole wheat products, adequate protein, and a moderate amount of health-promoting fats. Excluded foods include chips, candies, cookies, processed meats, and other packaged ready-to-eat foods, etc.
Healthy eating includes eating healthy foods but also accounting for the attitude and approach to eating. Mealtimes should be a pleasant experience- both emotionally calming and physiologically satisfying. People should eat because they are hungry and need energy and nutrients to feed their bodies, and they shouldn’t feel any residual ill feelings afterward.
Why is it important to recognize the differences between the two?
They both seem to feedback off of each other with seemingly more health benefits for the average person. When you attempt to do both, they should be in harmony, and promote a sustainable lifestyle. When there is dissonance,–or reality failing to meet your expectations– this can lead to discouragement and the perception of an ongoing cycle of dieting. Do you eat because your body’s communicating its hunger, therefore requiring sustenance? Or, are you eating because you’re bored or at a social event with food nearby, thus tempting you to eat even though you don’t need the food at the moment. Even further, does eating stress you out more than it fulfills a physiological need? The condition of being obsessed with pursuing a healthy diet, otherwise termed as “orthorexia,” is becoming more prevalent as people become more health-conscious. This can become dangerous as foods are gradually eliminated and the variety of the diet decreases, which can lead to a degree of malnutrition.
Too often, people will go out and buy all the healthy foods, only to be discouraged because they are not foods that they enjoy eating. This can make eating stressful as cravings for other foods become stronger. When you finally give in, the feeling of guilt kicks in, restarting the cycle of eating healthy foods you don’t enjoy because you felt guilty, and then finally giving in to your cravings once again and feeling regret. Maybe this sounds familiar, or not at all. It’s okay, we’re all human and not made to be perfect, only to do the best that we can.
To avoid becoming entangled in this never-ending cycle of dieting, try setting realistic healthy goals on a weekly or monthly basis. One example could be including a non-starchy vegetable one or two meals per day instead of purging your entire fridge and restocking it with food you normally wouldn’t eat. So, do make sure to fit in eating healthy foods, but healthy eating does not exclude enjoying the foods you eat. It is well and good to moderately consume the occasional treat of your choice. Remember, the goal is to enjoy the mealtime process rather than obsessing over foods you’ve eliminated. Making healthier substitutions is another way of eating healthy.
Treat your body nice,