What “Eating Healthy” Really Means

On a recent visit to my doctor for my annual physical, I was asked if I eat healthily. My answer was, of course, a resounding "yes!" Then he proceeded to ask me a great question: "What does healthy eating mean to me and why is it important?" I thought for a minute and told him that eating healthy for me means a variety of foods—mostly minimally or unprocessed fruits and vegetables. As for the other part of that question, I told him it's important to keep my body energized, to help it fight off infection and diseases, and to keep my organs functioning properly. Thankfully those were all the correct answers, and I passed his test!

This interaction got me thinking... Do most people know what eating healthy means and also why it’s so important? One of the responses I often hear to a question about eating healthy is “it’s too expensive.” But in reality, if you shift your thinking and shop a bit differently, you can eat healthy on the same budget. It’s all in the mindset and what’s important to you. Here are a few reasons that might help you think a little differently about healthy eating.

Improves Well-being

Eating healthy helps you get or stay more active, and more activity means improved muscle strength and a boost in your endurance. Exercise also helps to deliver much-needed oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. Be sure to include essential fats, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals in your daily routine to help improve well-being.

It’s Expensive to be Unhealthy

Roughly 75% percent of healthcare dollars are spent on treating preventable diseases like obesity and diabetes.

  • Nearly 66% of American adults are overweight or obese. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a healthier diet could prevent at least $71 billion per year in medical costs and lost lives.
  • There are 34.2 million adults with diabetes and 88 million more people with prediabetes. These staggering numbers are even more tragic when we find out the disease is one of the nation’s most expensive preventable diseases. According to the American Diabetes Association, those with diagnosed diabetes have medical expenses of $13,700 per year on average, more than half of which is directly attributed to their disease.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Eating a diet filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and protein may help maintain healthy body weight. There is no one-size-fits-all diet but eating the right combination of nutrients for your body can help you to improve and maintain a healthy weight. Try putting a new spin on an old recipe to make it a little healthier. You should never have to give up your favorite comfort foods—it’s all about balance. Start by slowly adding a variety of fruits and vegetables to meals. Over time this can help you control your weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

On top of that, a diet rich in nutrients that contains none to minimally processed foods can have a positive effect on your life expectancy. Studies show that making slight changes to the way we eat may help to decrease your BMI bringing your weight in line and helping you to live a longer and healthier life.

Maintain a Healthy Immune System

Your immune system is your defense against disease. Poor nutrition is the most common cause of immunodeficiencies worldwide. Eating a well-balanced diet, including fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables as well as food low in saturated fats, may help support a healthy immune system.

Enjoy a Mood Boost

The food we eat affects our mood, just as much as our mood can affect our food choices. When we feel sad, we're more likely to choose unhealthy foods. When you feel happy you are more likely to choose healthy foods. Eating a diet rich in protein, moderate in carbs, and low in fat can have a positive effect on your mood.