Food & Fitness

Trying to decide what’s healthy and what isn’t

Becoming a Certified Holistic Nutritionist

I’m happy to announce that as of yesterday, I am halfway to my goal of raising enough money to pay for the courses that will lead to my degree as a Certified Holistic Nutritionist! I’d also like to let you all know that all proceeds from the selling of my e-book and all donations made to Living Healthy in the Real World, Living Rhetorically in the Real World, and Health Writer Eats go towards my nutritionist degree. Every little bit counts! I appreciate any support you’re willing to give 🙂

Trying to eat healthier

I have a big question to ask all of you health-conscious folk reading this blog (which I assume is the majority of people reading this blog… I would guess that people have some interest in health in at least one part of their lives if they’re reading a blog about healthy living ;)). The question is this:

What leads you to decide whether a food is “healthy” or not?

The reason why I ask this is because it’s something that people often ask me, and it’s something that I often have to think about when I’m grocery shopping. It’s also something that I find on many healthy living blogs. For example, maybe you’re vegan, so you choose a vegan cheese product over real cheese. Why? Putting aside food allergies and the like, what does this choice mean for you with regards to your personal health, to the health of animals, to the health of the economy, to the health of the environment? I mean, is choosing a vegan cheese product going to be a better choice for all of those different kinds of health, or is choosing organic cheese going to be the better choice? (And let’s say that you need cheese in a recipe or something – going without cheese isn’t an option here).

I don’t intend to offend anyone – and I myself had bacon with nitrate in it, processed cheese slices, and bread with glucose-fructose in it this weekend, so as you can see, I don’t always make “the healthiest” choices myself – but I’m really curious. What do you think is better? Choosing a processed product? An organic-but-animal-byproduct? And what about when it comes to calories? I’ll admit: when I’m trying to lose weight, I choose reduced-calorie margarine over Earth Balance or real butter. Reduced-calorie margarine certainly doesn’t have the best ingredients in it, but it is helpful for me in trying to reach my goals. That doesn’t mean that it’s “healthier” at all, though.

smoked salmon

I’m a big believer in eating healthy 80 – 90% of the time and relaxing a little bit on that 10 – 20%. Even so… I’m curious as to what motivates you when you’re at the store. I truly believe that healthy is different for everyone: one person may thrive on raw food while another may need to eat meat daily in order to have high amount of energy. This means that we’re all going to have different answers to the question of what motivates us to make our healthy choices.

What is it that makes that final choice for you over which food is the healthier option?


  1. Mary Anne in Kentucky

    The allergies come first, of course. After that, I listen to what my body wants. For example, I’ve always liked sweet potatoes, but not loved them. I used to eat them two or three times a month in the winter. Now, since menopause, I crave them. I must need that extra estrogen: I now eat sweet potatoes about every other day all winter, and at least twice a week in summer (I now want them enough to put up with the oven heating up the kitchen.) Less dramatic changes in what I want in the way of fruits and vegetables occur over months or years, and also with meats and cheese and nuts and beans.
    I was lucky enough to grow up eating real food. I look around the table at work at other people’s lunches (there are only eight or nine of us and we all eat lunch together), ranging from Lean Cuisine to pop tarts to fast food, and wonder how they can stand to eat the stuff.

  2. Christina


    May I please ask where you are getting your Certified Holistic Nutritionist? Im very much intrested in becoming one myself but Im not sure which is the best program.

    Thank you so much

  3. Dr. J

    I’ve never been one to look for “substitutes” for the obviously unhealthy foods, such as soy hot dogs, cheeses, stc. as simple examples. I feel it is better to find a new way to eat rather than look for ways to eat the “same” just with different processed ingredients. So I concentrate on whole natural foods, and minimize the franken foods. That’s the way In do it. The best I can say is it passes the is it working test.

  4. Geosomin

    Usually I look for the least chemicals and preservatives. Or have a smaller amount of the fattening stuff. Sometimes “healthy” food is full of tonnes of sugar and other stuff that is worse for me than just having a bit smaller portion of the “bad” stuff. Usually I know I’ve been eating well because I just feel better when I eat it.

  5. JavaChick

    That’s a really good question Sagan, it’s making me think. 🙂

    Honestly, I would say I start from what I like to eat. Then I try to choose real food as much as possible. I grew up on home cooked meals and my mother actually served up quite a variety – I didn’t realize at the time how lucky we were, it was just the way I was used to eating. My siblings & I were all cooking from a fairly young age too and obviously learned a lot from our parents.

    I know that I prefer ‘one dish’ meals – curries, stir fries, casseroles, pasta, etc. I’m not a meat and potatoes fan, we don’t really eat a lot of bread. But that is mainly due to personal preference. I try to make sure that we incorporate lots of veggies and have fruit on hand.

    That’s not to say that we never eat unhealthy foods, or that we don’t sometimes choose convenience. Sometimes we are lazy. 🙂 We also buy real butter and full fat cheese, husband has 2% milk for his tea and I have 10% cream for my coffee. I don’t like sugar substitutes. But I aim to have most of our meals made from real food, whole grains, veggies and lean protein and to hopefully have them be something that both Husband & I will enjoy.

    It’s not perfect, there’s room for improvement. I think the important thing is that we are aware and making an effort.

  6. Andrea@WellnessNotes

    Like you, I focus on eating healthy the majority of the time. I think there is some room for “treats” or not so healthy food once in a while.

    For me, the first step to eating healthy is to prepare almost all meals at home from scratch. I belong to an organic CSA and trust the fruits and veggies I get from them. I also buy a lot of produce, eggs, milk, cheese and bread at the Farmers’ market (which runs year-round here). I try to get to know the people I buy my food from. I try to eat local foods whenever possible. But I’ll admit that I sometimes eat out-of-season produce that has been traveling quite a bit. This usually happens when I am impulsive when I’m shopping… We also eat a lot less meat than we used to as I think it’s better for us as well as the environment.

    I guess overall, I am conscious about eating healthy foods on a daily basis, but I don’t want to obsess over it, and I allow for some “not-so-healthy” foods without beating myself up.

    Great question!

  7. Jody - Fit at 53

    I am a nutritional stats freak! I like to know calories, fat, protein, carbs, fiber, sugars & more so I can see how it fits into the overall food for the day or week. I also prefer whole foods vs. processed or packaged or frozen (beyond fresh veggies & fruit that are frozen). I am not a fan of frozen dinners or canned veggies or things like that just because I prefer to eat things I like the taste of so I choose based on the best possible for me but that does not mean that some things I eat may have minimal trans fats or have sugar grams or things like that. I just try to get it to all even out over the course of a few days. If I had the money, I would eat meat & veggies & fruit – organic.

    I almost always eat my own foods too – rarely eat out….

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