What is ‘healthy’?

Someone on Facebook just asked me about being ‘healthy’. They actually said “what do you have with your waffles to make them healthy?“.

Waffles with protein ice-cream

I have protein ice-cream with my waffles. Click the image for a recipe.

It got me thinking about my definition of healthy and what I do to be ‘healthy’. Is it only eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds? Am I setting a bad example by eating and talking about waffles? Even with my first definition of ‘healthy’ some would say “don’t eat the fruit, it’s full of sugar and that’s not healthy”. Sadly, I have said that in the past. Did I have a healthy relationship with food? Not really. Was I stressed out and worrying about the micro for the sake of the macro? Probably. Would I eat nothing but fruit all day? No.

Looking back at the things I’ve tried over the years for the sake of my ‘health’, the stuff I’ve actually stuck with has been very much ‘moderate’. Choices that allow for balanced living. I no eat one or two pieces of fruit a day, longer follow the “Blood type diet” or go swimming in ice-cold surf. I do however, meditate when I’m stressed starting to feel the bodily signs of anxiety or unease, but don’t stress if I don’t meditate for a week or have a’bad’ meditation. I have also changed the way I work so that I am doing more of the things I love and can’t see myself ever not doing these things. I still make sure I move nearly every day, doing exercise I enjoy and/or benefit from (mostly weight training and sprinting) and occasionally I’ll even remember to take my fish oil. Instead of having ‘good food’ and ‘bad food’ I have food. I eat much more than I used to. Finally, enough to match my body’s demand, which is high due to my weight training. I know my body won’t repair on simple carbs and sugary foods alone and feed it enough  fruit, vegetables fibre, fats and protein to keep it ticking along. However, I know that after I’ve covered that baseline, that my body and tastebuds will be thankful for some simpler foods like waffles and sorbet too. I have just a Healthy Helping of this and that.

What this question about health also go me thinking is; maybe we’ve all been sold the idea of ‘healthy’ by magazines, website and other media interest who are focussed on short-term outcomes only. By the media’s standards I could add goji berries to my waffles and call them healthy, or a sprinkling of quinoa and chia on the crust of fluffy supermarket bread could make it a ‘clean’ toasted sandwich. Seriously, I saw this today! There’s nothing good or bad about any of these ingredients, in the great scheme of things.

Hopefully you can see that health is about having longterm positive outcome. My true definition of ‘healthy’ is one that will leave me in good mental and physical health when I’m 80. A lifestyle which I will look back on without regret and that is flexible enough for every day until then.

What is your idea of ‘healthy’?

About Michelle

Michelle is passionate about showing people how easy it is to prepare food that is healthy and packed full of flavour. She has just completed her first recipe book, Healthy Helpings: fast food for fit physiques. She began sharing her love of food in 2007, when she produced two series of the online cooking show ‘Healthy Helpings TV’, making fast food healthy and healthy food fast. In 2008 she competed in bodybuilding as a novice figure shaping competitor and she remains passionate about physique sports. She was a 2009 Australian Masterchef semi-finalist, and contributes articles to Oxygen Magazine Australia. Michelle lives with her husband on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia, where she loves to search out new ingredients and food ideas from local farmers markets, health food shops and ethnic grocers, and take her two dogs on long rambles through the vineyards. Find out more about Michelle's book