Eating Right Means More Than The Right Foods

What does it mean to eat right? That is a much more difficult question than most people will ever realize. Americans grow up learning about the four food groups. On the other side of the world in Australia, the government declares that healthy eating involves five food groups. So much for simple answers.

One thing is indisputable: everyone has to eat something in order to live. We also know that no one lives forever. Somewhere between eating nothing and eating poison is healthy eating. Mortality graces both ends of the spectrum. Somewhere (not necessarily in the middle) is what might be considered healthy eating.

While defining healthy eating for everyone is a challenge, defining unhealthy eating is quite a bit easier. Here are just a few of the hallmarks of unhealthy eating:

Eating Disorders

While we need food to live, our relationship with food can ultimately kill us. By definition, unhealthy eating is anything that is indicative of an eating disorder. In broad terms, eating disorders come in two flavors: eating too much, and eating too little. The “too little” category is a lot more complicated than that. Bulimia is not a case of eating too little. It is a case of purging that which you do eat to artificially reduce the total amount of food you digest.

Anorexia is the fear of weight gain taken to such an extreme that one cannot maintain a healthy weight necessary to live. You can find a list of other specified feeding and eating disorders (OSFED). They are:

  • Atypical anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Binge eating disorder
  • Purging disorder
  • Night eating syndrome

Ironically, you can suffer from any of these while eating all the “right foods.” These disorders are related to the amount of food you eat, and what you do after you eat it. If you have any of these potentially deadly disorders, just know that treatment is available.

Eating What Your Body Cannot Process

Despite the fact that somewhere some expert has determined that just about everything causes cancer, there is no real evidence that white bread and milk are unhealthy. There are simply too many people who have lived long and happy lives enjoying reasonable quantities of both to call them poison.

That said, they may be poison for you. It is among all things possible that you are lactose intolerant. You might even be a candidate for celiac disease. What is unhealthy to you may not be unhealthy for everyone. More importantly, what is healthy for most other people may be indigestible for you. Regardless of what any dietitian says, it is unhealthy to try to eat things your body cannot process.

Ignoring Your Circumstances

If you live and work in a place like Alaska during the winter, your diet is going to have to consist of some things that would horrify your states-side dietitian. A calorie is a unit of heat. Cold weather saps heat from your body. In such weather, you need to pack in more calories just to survive. To have enough energy to do hard, physical labor, you need to pack in a lot of extra calories. That is what your circumstances demand.

If you are diabetic and find yourself in the middle of a hypoglycemic crash, you are going to have to eat something right away, likely something that is not on the diabetic eating chart. A candy bar is probably in order. It is silly to talk about dietary restrictions in such a situation.

As you can see, eating healthy is about a lot more than eating healthy food. It is also about your relationship to food, eating food that is in harmony with your body, and being aware of your circumstances that effect dietary choices.

Bon appétit.

Ashley Andrews is a San Diego-based freelance writer who blogs on a wide range of green living, business, health and technology topics.

See also:
Awaken Your Intuitive Relationship to Food
Life Changing Digestive Health