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We Don't Call Food Healthy

Years ago the doctor asked my oldest daughter what was a healthy breakfast. She was 6 or 7, and she looked at him blankly.

"We don't use that word" I explained "we just talk about real food."

Who knows what he thought at that point, but he was a good sport and rephrased the question.

"What's your favorite breakfast?"

"Steak and eggs," she answered prompty, and he laughed.

The definition of which foods are "healthy"- as defined by whoever is currently defining it by whatever criteria, scientific or not - is constantly changing. Many people throw in the towel on nutrition because they want real understanding and it doesn't seem to exist. Others find that something works for them that's far outside the norm. And most people notice that nutrition needs change over time and different circumstances.

Even if we could accurately rate all foods by relative value according to every single nutrient, where would the line be between "healthy" and "unhealthy"? Is this a good way to approach the gift of plenty that we experience every day?

Having enough, or more than enough, to eat, is a blessing as well as a challenge. I want my children to appreciate the variety and availability, while choosing foods closer to their original form most of the time.

And whether a certain food is "healthy" for a certain person depends on so many factors.

We've talked about how athletes and pregnant women need to eat more, and older people need to eat less and probably be more mindful of the quality than teenagers. We've talked about how some people experiment with fasting, or feel their best eating a certain range of foods for a time. We talk about nutrient density, protein, iron, fiber, and supplements.

She still loves steak and eggs.

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