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Is this healthy - or low calorie?

I've come to realise that there is a great deal of confusion around what 'healthy' is as opposed to 'low calorie'.

So you're having that huge smoothie with your meal and feeling so proud of yourself for being so good, because you're trying to lose weight and be healthy! But the reality is that HEALTHY is not always LOW calorie and low calorie is not always healthy. I know that may sound a bit confusing but I'll do my best to explain the difference to help you make the right choices going forward.

I had a client who went to a lovely health bar and told the owner she wouldn't drink their smoothies because her trainer said the smoothies were unhealthy. I had never used the word unhealthy with regards the smoothie. What I had told her was to be mindful of the amount of calories in the smoothies. But it's understandable that a person might have gotten this confused.

The best way I can explain this is that HEALTHY implies that it is beneficial for your health and nutritionally sound for your body. It is, or it contains ingredients that will benefit your body by providing micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals or macro nutrients such as healthy fats; wholesome natural carbohydrates and proteins. Healthy foods are generally not processed or chemically altered by man and are as close to their natural state as possible, like fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates in their natural states and (ideally) organic animal products. But understand that these things could also be high in calories. Fruit for example is a wonderful healthy item to eat, but it's not going to be good if you have an excess of it. The example with the smoothie too, where the size of it, together with all of the ingredients it contains could make it quite a high calorie snack, or addition to a meal! But it will still provide good nutritional value.

Low calorie on the other hand simply means that the food, drink, or dish contains less calories. And often when foods, especially ready made foods, are advertised as low calorie, they contain preservatives, additives, artificial sweeteners, and refined carbohydrates or hydrogenated fats for example. Take diet cool drinks or zero fat sweets. They may be lower in calories but they are not going to add any nutritional value, and in fact may contain ingredients that are detrimental to your health.

If you are aiming to lose weight and be healthy try to choose foods and portions that are low or moderate calorie AND healthy. Aim to understand what your food or drink contains and make your decisions based on that :)

Healthy food strawberries

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