Monday, July 12, 2010

What is Healthy?

What is healthy? It may seem like a silly and simple question, but can you put a number on it? What about a set of numbers? If so, do those numbers apply to me; a 5’3” female? What about to a 6’5” male athlete? When you think about it, healthy is a very subjective term.

When people go out to eat and look for “healthy” options what do they look for? There are so many nutrition messages circulating around stores, restaurants, and the media, it’s hard to tell which one is right for you. Low fat always sounds like a good option to me, and what’s not to love about with organic foods?

The answer isn’t as simple as we’d all like it to be. The answer that I have for you is really annoying:


I won’t go into an entire lesson about energy balance and nutrition for every state of well being. We all know that different bodies have different nutritional needs, calories in vs calories out, more body mass needs more fuel….etc. So, someone who is simply trying to lose weight may be looking at calories alone, while a diabetic is probably looking at sugar and carbohydrates, and someone with hypertension may be looking for something that’s lower in sodium. Very complicated, I know.

So as a restaurant, how do you determine criteria for marketing “healthy” items? My rule of thumb – DON’T. The word “healthy” is very sticky and its definition, as mentioned before can be very subjective. I try to think of other words like “lighter”, or “smart”, or “fresh”…etc. My theory – stay subjective as well.

If you do deiced to remain subjective it is very important to also provide nutrition information so that diners can make informed decisions about what is indeed “healthy” for them.

What is your definition of healthy?


  1. Healthy is what makes my body feel good. When I started running I realized how much processed food I was eating and how sick I felt. I needed fuel not junk!

  2. It just proves that ANYONE or any size can be unhealthy. Everyone needs to watch what they eat and keep in shape!