We all know it’s important to eat healthy – even if we choose not to do so. I try to eat as healthy as possibly as often as possible. Sure, there are exceptions, but that’s life. For the most part I do the best I can to make sure that the foods that I put into my body are going to be helpful.

Over the years, I’ve worked with three types of clients:

Healthy Eaters: For the most part, these people eat a healthy diet. Not a lot of processed food. When they do indulge, it’s negligible. They’re conscious and awareness of nutrition keeps them in check. Not a surprise that they are usually right around their ideal weight.

Dieters: These are the people that have not been converted...yet. They lived by the almighty calorie and are excellent at counting them. Nutrition always pulls in at a distant second. Even though these people will bust their butt working out, they spend most of their time chasing a number on a scale – never quite happy with where they’re at.

Athletes: I love amateur athletes. They’re amazing to watch when they’re training.  They eat what they want, when they want and make no excuses. They’re meticulous about race nutrition, and don’t eat too terribly throughout the duration of their training plan. The millisecond the season ends, it’s a frenzy of pizza and usually beer.

Athletes are a totally different blog post, so I’ll save that for another day. I think it’s more important to focus on the difference between the first two types of eaters – as well as what it means to eat a “healthy diet” versus “diet food.”

There is a really big difference…

A healthy diet means…

  • You’re eating clean.
  • The foods you eat are generally unrefined and whole.
  • Foods aren’t made up a lot of fillers and ingredients you can’t pronounce.
  • The foods you’re eating are not necessarily a weight loss aid, although people who eat a healthy diet are more likely to maintain a normal body weight.
  • You’re likely to consume more body-loving fiber from all the vegetables, fruits and whole grains eaten.
  • The shelf life of most of your foods is short enough to require weekly trips to the grocery store.
  • Your foods possess a variety of naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals.
  • Fewer ingredients on the label = more nutrition for you!

Diet foods…

  • Usually have very little nutritive value whatsoever.
  • Frequently contain words that have been associated with health problems, including: aspartame, partially hydrogenated oils (AKA trans fats), high fructose sweeteners, monosodium glutamate.
  • That claim to be nutritious have most likely been “fortified” – or stuffed with lower quality vitamins and minerals on the back-end of processing.
  • Labeled as “Sugar Free” and “Fat Free” often mislead people into thinking they’re healthy and won’t add weight. They’re actually loaded with empty calories, and do nothing to satisfy the body’s natural desire for the nutrients that keep us running. Translation: you’ll eat more later.
  • Are typically preserved with oodles of unhealthy sodium. Don’t think sodium is a big deal? Think again.