How to Make Food Healthy Food

If you were alive in the 70s, you might remember thinking “health food” meant “hippie food.” Back then, most of America ate meat and potatoes. Yogurt and granola were considered Bohemian. Then came diet foods in the 80s — I have distinct memories of drinking Crystal Light and warming up Nutrisystem tofu in the microwave. Filled with aspartame, these diet foods weren’t exactly healthy by today’s standards. But are today’s standards any better? Do we truly know what makes healthy food?

Today, we use terms like “processed” and “whole” and “clean” to distinguish the good from the bad. There’s organic and non-GMO, gluten-free, and sugar-free. But just because something is called “healthy” doesn’t make it so. How do we know what’s really good for us?

Enter Mary Lou Perry. A UVA Health registered dietitian, she recently gave a healthy cooking demonstration for people with diabetes and chronic illness.

I don’t have diabetes. But I have to watch my sugar and cholesterol. Gut health is a major concern in my family. Perry’s science-based facts and recipes gave me some clear ideas on how to eat better, how to make food healthy food, and what it means, in general, to “eat healthy.”

What Is Healthy Food?

Perry’s general guidance is not surprising. She follows the author Michael Pollan’s advice, “eat food, mostly plants, not too much.”

“Eat food as close to its whole form as possible. It has less impact on blood glucose levels,” she explains.

By increasing the number of plants and processed foods you eat, your…

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