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Healthy Diet vs. Healthy Weight: Which is More Important?

First of all, people's definitions of "healthy" vary quite drastically.  I have heard people say they eat healthy but when they describe the refined pasta, fat-free muffins and diet sodas that populate their diet, it becomes clear that we all don't agree on what healthy actually is.  Eating highly processed, nutrient-poor foods can make it incredibly difficult to lose weight.  These types of foods do not provide the vitamins, minerals and fiber to properly fuel your body and they can lead to overeating.  The considerable amount of nutrients you receive from eating unprocessed, wholesome, plant-based foods is protective to your body and this is extremely important.

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Assuming that someone truly does eat healthy, can they still be overweight?  Yes, it is possible.  Large portions, frequent snacking, and eating too much of the higher calorie healthy foods such as nuts, seeds, avocados, dried fruits, and coconuts can lead to weight gain if the excess energy from these foods is not expended in activity or exercise.  You can maintain a healthy weight by mainly eating vegetables, fruits, and beans/legumes, while watching portions of the higher calorie foods such as whole grains, dried fruits, nuts and seeds.  It is still important to include foods like nuts in your diet; however they should not be eaten in unlimited quantities.  On the other hand, you can go wild with the veggies!

What about people who are at a healthy weight but do not choose to consume a healthy diet?  It may not seem fair when you think about the people who eat fast food, sugary desserts and nachos while staying thin, right?  Slender does not necessarily equal healthy.  Just because someone is at a healthy weight and looks good on the outside does not mean that they are healthy on the inside.  You can't see the harm that is being done to the arteries, the heart, the liver, the kidneys and so forth, until the damage has occurred and symptoms evolve. Chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes often take decades to develop and eating unhealthy foods contributes significantly to these unfortunate and often preventable afflictions. 

It is better to have a few extra pounds and consume healthy foods than to be thin and eat junk foods.  If you are overweight and eating nutritious foods, a few simple adjustments such as increasing your physical activity and/or decreasing some of the higher calorie foods may be all you need to do to reach a healthy weight.  Being mindful of the fact that what you eat can have an immense impact on your health should be a strong motivating factor to make better food choices.  And if you are not as thin as you'd like to be, feel proud of yourself for making smart food choices and for having enough respect for your body to feed it with proper nutrition.

Corinne Goff is a Registered Dietitian who is absolutely passionate about food, health, and nutrition. Corinne has a BA in Psychology from Salve Regina University and a BS in Nutrition from the University of Rhode Island. As a nutritionist, her objective is to help people reach their health goals by offering a personalized holistic approach to wellness that incorporates natural foods and lifestyle changes. She works together with her clients to develop daily improvements that they feel comfortable with and that are realistic. She believes that the focus on wholesome, nutrient-rich, real food, is the greatest possible way to become healthier, have more energy, decrease chances of chronic disease, and feel your best.


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