Is Healthy-ish the Newest Food Trend ?

February 22, 2016 ,

So far in 2016, the trend of eating “healthy-ish” has been gaining some serious momentum. The January issue of Bon Appetit spotlighted healthy-ish eating and a PBS documentary with writer Michael Pollan (who also uses this term) has been getting attention. What does “healthy-ish” mean? What are the benefits of eating this way? I spoke with CBC radio personality Jason Osler on the topic (listen here) and he also did a writeup on our discussion for CBC news.

What is Healthy-ish?

Bon Appetit (Jan 2016): “Delicious comforting home cooking that just happens to be kinda good for you”.

Urban Dictionary: “When something is sort of healthy”.

Example of Healthy-ish: When you cook at home with basic healthy ingredients and add a little extra something that’s not necessarily a “health food” but it increases your enjoyment. (Ex. Brussle sprouts with bacon, Air popped popcorn with melted butter and salt sprinkling, (My favourite) Grape & Feta Kale salad, Carrots and ranch dip, or a D’Ambrosio family favourite growing up was breaded zucchini sautéed in oil…that’s “healthy-ish”!)

My Top 10 Benefits of Eating Healthy-ish:

  1. Eating with positive feelings and not polarizing foods as “good” or “bad”.
  2. Chance to get creative with new recipes with the intention of healthy eating. We know those who cook their own meals tend to have healthier diets.
  3. Help to eliminate the “cheat day” because you don’t feel deprived during the week. Severe food restrictions tend to increase desire.
  4. You do not need to be “perfect” when following a nourishing diet. Small strides using the fundamentals of healthy eating work wonders.
  5. Enjoyment of your foods is key for long-term sustainability.
  6. Encourages kids (or adults) to try new foods – ex. Breaded cauliflower can be in a rotation with steamed cauliflower.
  7. Get back to the basics of healthy eating emphasizing a diet that is less processed and made with basic ingredients.
  8. Avoid focusing on calorie counting but instead on incorporating nourishing foods like avocado or nuts that offer enjoyment and nutritional benefit.
  9. Increases our confidence to continue to improve the nutritional value of our foods.
  10. Moving away from “all or nothing” mental sabotage to eating nourishing foods most of the time.

Possible Concerns:

The problem with the “everything in moderation” approach is that people are often unsure where to draw the line for what is too much. There is still a “grey area” within “healthy-ish” with some dishes a lot more nourishing than others. As a dietitian, many of my clients come in to find out how they are doing with meeting their nutritional needs. It is important to keep in mind that the path to nourishing diets happens in small (or sometimes big) steps – and these are different for each person.

Bottom Line:

The goal of healthy eating, in my opinion, is to love your foods and have them be nourishing, delicious so that you can stick to this way of eating in the long-term! If you are a perfectionist, setting your intention on “healthy-ish” will give you some extra wiggle room. New habits take time to solidify so be kind to yourself during the process. You do not need to be “perfect” to eat well for your health and well-being.

Be sure to hashtag your “healthy-ish” home cooked meals on Instagram or let me know of some of your family favourites! I hope you enjoy this more moderate approach to healthy eating.

Click to discover SOSCuisine: Healthy with Pleasure Meal Plans


Andrea D'Ambrosio
Andrea is a Registered Dietitian and owner of Dietetic Directions, a nutritional counselling and education company. Andrea's mission is to inspire clients through motivation and guidance to achieve life-long health behaviour changes. She has taken continuing education in the areas of Food Allergy and Food Hypersensitivity, Health Research Literacy, Motivational Interviewing & Coaching for Behaviour Change.

One comment to “Is Healthy-ish the Newest Food Trend ?”

March 3, 2016 Mary said:

Love this concept! Great article and CBC interview Andrea!

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