Food is NOT healthy; it's nutritious (or not)

Our food isn’t healthy. We are healthy. Our food is nutritious. I’m all about the words. Words are the key to giving people the tools they need to figure out what to eat. Everyone’s so confused.

Anyone who has ever taken my class knows how much I believe words matter. Words reflect both our conscious and subconscious thinking. And this thinking influences our attitudes, behaviors, and experiences. Including joy. 

Read this relatively short thought-provoking article that makes the case that "healthy is a bankrupt word" and we would be better off not using it when it comes to food. 

In joy! Dr. Mark


Standing in line at the Madison Park Starbucks in Seattle just blocks from the home of CEO Howard Shultz—a home where I had once been invited to dinner to share my philosophy on eating to the Starbucks executive team—a nicely dressed man in his 30’s ordered a chocolate chip cookie at 10:30 in the morning.

I know what you may be thinking. But it’s not what I was thinking or feeling at that moment. I felt sad. Not because of what he ordered, but the way he ordered it.

“Oh, and I’d like to get a chocolate chip cookie. Because obviously it’s good for me,” the man said with a downward gaze at the register.

He wasn’t trying to be funny. He felt ashamed. That he was doing something wrong. And sarcasm was his way to offset the double shot of guilt he was feeling.

We can judge all we want about other people’s food choices or companies’ food products, but here stood a grown man feeling ashamed for having a chocolate chip cookie. And, in that moment, it made me sad.

Like any emotional response, observing this moment touched upon something personal. Growing up in a big family in small town Indiana in the 1970’s and 80’s, my mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies represented something good. And now they’re bad. And it feels just about everything is bad or scary.

And truth be told, a lot of things are bad and scary. Including much of our food. And we do need to pay attention and get better.

But do we need to live scared or always be afraid of everything? Does the goodness of a chocolate chip cookie—or any food—need to be lost? Does “healthy living” always have to take away the fun?

I don’t believe so.

Not paying attention to what you eat doesn’t work. But it’s also exhausting to be afraid of everything in food world. And it’s exhausting trying to always be “perfect” in your eating. Is there some happy middle ground?

Perhaps not middle ground, but definitely higher ground. Something good that lies in the realm of much better, not perfection or fear.

To prove the point: For the last eight years, 95% of participants in our fun annual Holiday Game have not gained a single pound during the month of December while still enjoying the tastes and traditions of the holidays. Not through denial or fear, but through mindfulness and embracing the goodness of the things we love.

I believe no food is evil, but much food is flawed. I believe a well-nourished body will naturally bend toward health in most circumstances.

The good news is you don’t have to be perfect in the food you eat, but you do have to dominate with “good for you” food. For what you eat not only influences how you feel, it also directly—and often dramatically—influences when and how much you eat.

But what is “good for you” food? Sure depends on whom you ask, right?

What fires me up the most is to help you make sense of things and take good advantage of the amazing ability your body was given for health. We do this through meaningful education, inspirational experiences, and a passionate spirit of living based on honesty, goodness, and simplicity.

I am very food-centric in my approach to health because food is not just the raw material to fuel, build, and repair your body; food is also like a mirror. And how we handle eating reflects a lot about ourselves.

I believe reclaiming goodness as a central tenant in our attitude is vital to reclaiming the goodness of our food, our body, and our health. Heck, I believe it’s instrumental to reclaiming the goodness of our life.

After all, we just want to live a happy and meaningful life, right? And we sure wouldn’t complain if we could look and feel like a rock star while doing so.

I believe most of us are willing to do our part to be healthy if we just knew what the heck that meant. But we rightfully aren’t willing to give up the goodness of things and live on a steady diet of fear and angst dished up from the extremes.

The good news is you don’t have to. 

Dr. Mark

December 20, 2015