Once a certain food is labeled as “healthy”, nutrition is the most important thing to consider. It is true that most people won’t want to eat anything (nutritious or not) if it tastes bad, but there are many “health foods” available that are more focused on taste than nutritional content. Any food that is overly processed isn’t really a health food, and you want to be sure to look at things such as fat, calories, salt and sugar content. These things are often slipped into foods without notice, and the consumer thinks they are being healthy…little do they know, they are filling their bodies with junk. Even foods such as canned vegetables and soup can be loaded with more than a healthy amount of sodium, despite the fact that they are “healthy” and taste good. Salads are the poster-child of health food, yet if they aren’t made carefully they can have as much fat and calories as a fast-food meal; nearly enough for an entire day!
Many fast-food restaurants advertise their food as being healthy, yet consumers should use common sense before buying into this story. Obviously a salad or grilled chicken sandwich at a fast-food joint would be more healthy than their other options, yet much less healthy than food you would eat at a better restaurant or at home. If you are in a pinch go ahead and order the best fast-food option available. Also, these options are ok as an occasional treat, if you really enjoy them. You just need to be careful about how often you eat these foods. On a daily basis, it is much better to think ahead, and be prepared by taking packed lunches with you to school or work.
The best way to be sure you are eating nutritional food is to cook your own food, at home. By using lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins, you can cook nutritionally balanced meals. By learning to healthfully flavor your food, you can eat things that taste incredible while controlling fat and sodium. Many people have trouble learning to cook a variety of foods that are both healthy and balanced, while not eating the same foods all of the time. With all of the cooking shows on TV, and the websites and cookbooks available, any person can develop a passion for nutritious food that is far better than the “health foods” available to buy. Some great sources for food education and inspiration that you can use at your own pace are Rachel Ray (TV, magazine and cookbooks), Barefoot Contessa and Giada deLaurentiis on Food Network. allrecipes.com and vegetariantimes.com (and their magazine)are great readable sources. Health and exercise magazines include recipes, as well as most other magazines. Keep your eyes open for new and exciting ways to combine ingredients, and you will be eating the true health food!