What Does Eating Healthy Mean to You?

It's difficult to talk about food and cooking, as we do, without very quickly running into the question of healthy eating. Presumably many of us cook at home at least in part because we want more control over our nutrition and our health, and to eat healthier, but what does that mean? The messages from the science press and nutrition establishment are, to put it kindly, conflicted.

In the end, we're left up to our own devices to decide what healthy eating means for us personally, dictated by life circumstances, food preferences, and health goals. I'm curious: what does healthy eating mean for you?

The Kitchn has purposefully, from the beginning, avoided talking too much about health and diet, especially in prescriptive ways, as there is a lot of variety in people's personal choices — and for good reason! How a cook with celiac disease or diabetes eats will probably be different from people with other health needs or goals.

Food preferences and allergies aside, though, there's also a real problem in figuring out what actually is best for us in nutrition. Gary Taubes wrote about this last weekend for The New York Times, indicting the health and nutrition science community for what he sees as a fundamental lack of evidence for the hypotheses that come our way, willy-nilly:

Here’s another possibility: The 600,000 articles — along with several tens of thousands of diet books — are the noise generated by a dysfunctional research establishment. Because the nutrition research community has failed to establish reliable, unambiguous knowledge about the environmental triggers of obesity and diabetes, it has opened the door to a diversity of opinions on the subject, of hypotheses about cause, cure and prevention, many of which cannot be refuted by the existing evidence. Everyone has a theory. The evidence doesn’t exist to say unequivocally who’s wrong.

Read more: Why Nutrition Is So Confusing at The New York Times

Since we are simply home cooks and not trained in nutrition or dietary science, we don't feel we have the authority to cut through any of that noise. We take a much more relativistic tack in talking about nutrition and diet, avoiding some of the extremes, and trying to provide resources for you to eat healthy in the ways that you feel are right for you.

For some of us, that's a vegetarian or vegan diet. For others it's low-carb or low-sugar. Some of us are training for intense sporting events; others of us are just trying to lose weight by any means (after all, if there is one thing that science does seem to agree on, it's the remarkable good effects on the obese of losing weight). We could all debate the relative merits of these different styles of eating, but honestly, we're not really interested in that. The diet you choose is your choice, and we respect that.

We don't want to shy away from talking about nutrition and healthy eating here at The Kitchn, but we also aren't going to adopt or prescribe one particular diet. We're more interested in hearing what healthy eating means to you. How do you define eating healthy, in your own kitchen? Lots of vegetables, extra whole grains? No gluten? No refined foods? Meals you cook yourself? Low-calorie, low-fat? We're curious!

More on Diet & Nutrition at The Kitchn

(Image credits: Emily Ho)

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Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.

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