Is this healthy?

I’m a part of a few closed Facebook groups where health and fitness are the main topics of discussion.  I love them because we bounce ideas off of one another, and it’s really cool to see newbies to health and wellness dip their toes in.

But one thing I’ve seen come up again and again and again is this.

Is [blank] healthy?

Is yogurt healthy?  Are almonds healthy?  Is quinoa healthy?  Is chicken healthy?

I’m genuinely baffled a lot of the time – and not because I’m a health expert, but at the ignorance that many of us have about common items.  Not only this, but the seeming unwillingness of folks to simply Google, or the lack of knowledge that information about a lot of these food items is readily available is pretty astounding.

But the biggest thing that I find somewhat problematic with this line of questioning is the question itself.

We are asking the wrong questions about our food.

Stay with me here.

“Is chicken healthy?”

Well, that is a really subjective question.  You can boil an appropriate portion size of chicken (about the size of a deck of cards), and eat it with steamed  veggies.  That’s a pretty balanced meal.

You also can fry a few pieces of chicken and eat it with mac and cheese and potato wedges sprinkled with old bay.  Not the most balanced meal.  Pretty good, but not balanced.

So I think when we throw out the question “is [blank] healthy” we miss the entire point.  A food, in its raw form isn’t inherently unhealthy.  The nutrition factor of the food is changed in a few instances.

  • When you put a dressing on it.  A bare salad, or a salad that’s been dribbled on is wayyy different than a salad that has been doused in ranch, for examples.
  • The portion.  There’s a big difference in a half-cup of pasta, and four cups.
  • And finally, the way you prep it.  Did you fry it?  Pan sear it?  Rub some rub on it and bake it?  All of these things will change how nutritious this food is.

So, I think, before you ask “is this healthy,” consider reading up about the food.  Figure out a few good ways to prepare it that don’t involve dunking it in egg mixture and frying it in oil.  Find out what the serving size of the food is.  And get creative!