What is healthy eating?
You might be surprised to find out that there isn’t one agreed upon meaning.
The BC Ministry of Health has been working with partners to write a definition for healthy eating so that health professionals, government, non-governmental organizations and others can use the same definition when developing strategies and policies. Defining it isn’t as easy as it might first seem.
Many people think of healthy eating from the physical perspective: how our meals add up in terms of calories or sodium, or if portion sizes meet recommendations. We may focus on getting enough vegetables and fruit, choosing whole grains, drinking water or eating fish regularly. Each of these aspects may contribute to healthy eating, but they don’t provide the whole picture.
Healthy eating is a pattern of eating that supports your best possible physical, mental and emotional health. It includes making diverse and balanced food choices that meet your needs for nutrients and energy. But it isn’t defined by a single practice or behaviour.
Healthy eating is the overall way we interact with and approach food in our lives. It includes having a positive relationship with food, enjoying your food and feeling comfortably satisfied after eating without feeling guilt or shame. It means taking pleasure in food with others and as a part of celebrations and culture. It can include choosing foods sometimes because they give your body nutrients, even though you might prefer the taste of something else. It includes eating foods occasionally that don’t fit into any of the food groups just for the sheer pleasure of their taste.
To practice healthy eating, we need access to affordable nutritious food and we need knowledge and skills to gather and prepare it. We also need the places we live, learn, work and play to be supportive and make healthy eating easy for us every day. There is work to be done to make healthy eating easy for our communities, our families and ourselves, but we can start by thinking about the way we approach food in our lives.
To me, healthy eating is more of an art than a science. Finding balance in eating: that is my goal each day.
What does healthy eating mean to you?