What does it mean to you to say “eat healthy”? “Be sure to eat fruits and vegetables”, “Eat in moderation and do not overeat”, “Avoid eating fast food”, “Do not eat sweets and snacks”, “Pay attention to everything you put in your mouth”, “Do not eat processed foods”.

These are some of the answers we got to the question. Clearly there is no one right answer. The meaning varies from person to person. Everyone has different preferences and needs that affect the diet. Not only that, but the answer to the question of what it means for you to “eat healthy” can vary in the same person at different times in life: school, work, living alone or with family.

As nutritionists we can attest that the guidelines and recommendations in nutrition have also changed in the past decades and are constantly updated based on scientific studies. The more accessible the information, and it is very accessible and abundant, the greater the confusion. And we are here to explain what “healthy eating” means to us.

What is healthy food?
The professional experience of the two of us together exceeds 55 years. More horny years. Veteran nutritionists. The degree studies in nutrition science have trained us to examine foods and calculate nutritional values. For example, at the beginning of our professional path we saw in a traditional Majdara dish of rice and lentils mainly an excellent combination of carbohydrates – grains and legumes – and plant proteins. A combination that raises the nutritional quality compared to serving rice one day and lentils the next. Today our vision is broader and we see – more than ever – the importance of enjoying food.

Proper and balanced diet includes all food groups: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals (vegetables and fruits). The motto of proper nutrition is diversity, and the recommendation is to consume foods from all groups and to vary the choices in each group. Salad not only tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and onions, but also radishes, carrots, colored peppers, parsley and more.

Our veteran readers must have noticed this. It is important to treat nutrition as a whole. What and how to eat usually and not at one meal during a holiday or vacation. You can eat donuts on Hanukkah, ice cream as a treat during the day, pizza, geranium and any food that, even if its nutritional quality is low, is a pleasure and allows for an experience. For example, evokes longing for us or our loved ones. But at the same time attention must be paid to frequency. And immediately the explanation.

How do we usually eat?
You can watch documentaries that broaden your horizons and enrich your general knowledge, and you can also spice up reality shows that are worth just watching time or series that we will forget the end of the last episode, without feelings of guilt. It is possible to make informed and affordable purchases, and there is also the pleasure of impulsively buying a product that is not really worth the price we paid for it and we will not be impoverished.

The same goes for food and nutrition. Proper and balanced nutrition is important for the health of the body and mind, but adhering to it regularly and giving up favorite dishes misses the mark. Some prefer sweet and some salty, and some will take a pot and oil for frying on a lonely island.

It is important to pay attention to how we usually eat. It is recommended to eat foods as close as possible to raw materials, and as little as possible to ultra-processed foods such as snacks, pastries, sugary drinks, sauces or sausages.

Everything is fine, as long as the diet usually includes in the carbohydrate group mainly whole grains like whole wheat, whole rice, oats and more; The protein group includes low-fat dairy products, fish or chicken without skin and legumes – including chickpeas, beans, lentils, soy, peas; In the fat group avocado, olive oil, tahini and nuts; Plenty of vegetables and fruits on their skins (as much as possible) and in a variety of colors.

“I had a stressful day so I ordered pizza,” “I could not resist and ordered dessert.” These are repetitive sentences in the clinic. One unhealthy meal will not lead to disease, and vice versa: one balanced meal, which is not part of the routine, will not improve health. When spending time in a restaurant, ordering food at home, it is better to choose nutritious dishes, and if you feel like those that are not – it is okay sometimes to eat them and enjoy them, without remorse. We also eat like this, even if we are not expected to … and even if we know that this or that dessert has a low nutritional value, but delicious, we will choose it. And those around us will testify to that. It is also not easy for us to give up and we do not always want to give up delicious food. However, usually, we choose healthy food.

What is orthorexia?
In extreme cases of adhering to “healthy” eating that usually begins with good and proper processes for the body, there are those who develop great rigidity around eating healthy food. The commonly used term is orthorexia. That is, eating disorder, which includes a variety of behaviors that are in the range between healthy and pathological eating patterns.

Cases of orthorexia are sometimes confusing, because the behavior does not seem morbid, at least not at first. The reference to food is in terms of quality and not of quantity, there is no preoccupation with counting calories, weight and body image. At the same time, like other eating disorders, this is accompanied by anxiety and remorse in cases of deviation from the “rules”.

Without guilt

It is important to raise awareness and develop eating according to feelings of hunger and satiety, to neutralize calorie counting, to reduce dietary and culinary restrictions – and to concentrate on the cues that the body signals about satiety and fullness. This method gives food a place of pleasure rather than guilt, aiming for changes in eating patterns and food choices without feeling like they are in a restrictive and restrictive framework. 

By Editor

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