It's Healthy, So I Can Eat More... Right?

By Amber Charles, MSPH, RDN

November 23, 2020


Studies have shown that if a food is perceived as healthy, it is more likely to be consumed in larger amounts.

We've all seen the headlines, "x" food is healthy for you, "y" food can help you lose weight and while you're at it, avoid "that" food.


Health claims on food labels are not only a great marketing tactic, but often provide a false sense of security among consumers - we feel more comfortable eating larger amounts of "healthy" foods versus the "unhealthy" alternatives.


Health Claims

Health claims on food labels suggest that the food can confer specific health benefits to the consumer. According to the FDA, health claims:

  • must identify benefits for a disease or specific health-related problem;

  • are limited to claims about disease risk reduction;

  • cannot be claims about the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, or treatment of disease;

  • are required to be reviewed and evaluated by FDA prior to use".


"Healthy" Has a Limit...

Often times, health claims are based on ONE serving of the food. Double or even triple the amount and you're venturing into a red area - maybe you'd be having a lot of sugar, saturated fat or sodium at any given time - and forgoing those stated benefits.


PS: Learn how to read food labels here.


What you can do

For most people, no food should be off limit. That means that you can consume a variety of foods - without guilt - and still maintain a healthy lifestyle (yasss!).

This does take some practice though - so be sure to work with your Registered Dietitian for guidance.


1. Mindset shift

Move away from thinking of foods as healthy -vs- unhealthy: weird advice right? Focus more on the amount of each type you consume, incorporate a variety of nutrient-dense foods daily and avoid #dietculture.

2. Eat mindfully

This term possibly sounds like a broken record by now...but it's true. Learning to respond to your internal cues is important. When your stomach says ENOUGH, please avoid overeating which can lead to bloating, indigestion, heartburn and yes, gas!

3. Add, not restrict

Think about what foods you can add to your diet versus what foods you should restrict. Restricting almost never works and it's why #faddiets fail in the long-term (can someone say #bingeeating???).


4. Don't get caught up

There isn't a quick-fix or magic pill that improves your health overnight; although there are many claims and options in the world of health and fitness. Think about sustainable, life-long changes you can make that both cater to your health needs and happiness!

This information is intended for nutrition education purposes only. Always consult with your medical team and Registered Dietitian on a one-on-one basis to determine what is best for you and your health goals.

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