What defines a “healthy” food to you?

The FDA wants your input!

Add your comment here: Use of the Term “Healthy” in the Labeling of Human Food Products

Do you remember a couple years ago when the maker of a particular brand of granola bars was told by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to cease and desist from using the term “healthy” to describe their product?

The problem with those particular granola bars was their high saturated fat content. They were made with nuts, peanuts, peanut butter. coconut and dark chocolate—foods generally considered to be healthy and “good fats,” but fats nonetheless.

This caused a lot of confusion among consumers and a big media backlash, with the FDA accused of being arbitrary and enforcing out-of-date nutrient standards.

Earlier this year the FDA unveiled its new Nutrition Facts labeling, which now emphasizes the type of fats, rather than the total calories from fats. And added sugar has replaced fat as the new food bad guy.

To further guide what claims marketers can make, the FDA is reaching out to the public to help them define “healthy.”

I’ve included a link to the FDA Regulations comments page at the top of this post.

If you have an opinion about how the word “healthy” is used to sell products, you have until January 26, 2017, to tell the FDA.

What “healthy” means to me

My opinion? I think the word “healthy” will always remain too subjective and broad. Lots of foods are healthy, but for different reasons.

I generally don’t pay attention to packaging that tells me a product is “healthy,” “low-fat,” “heart healthy,” or “low-calorie” anyway. I read the nutrition label or the ingredients list, and then I make my own judgement.

Low-fat foods can still be high in sugar and/or salt. Healthy foods can still be high calorie.

I also keep in mind that no matter how “healthy” a food might be, I can’t eat unlimited quantities of it. A good diet is about variety and moderation.

My favorite food advice comes from Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.


Frugal Nurse


About Frugal Nurse

I'm frugal in all aspects of my life, not just healthcare. But I'm thankful that my 30+ years of experience as a nurse in our crazy-expensive healthcare system has given me the tools I need to make the most cost-effective healthcare choices I can for my family,


What defines a “healthy” food to you? — 2 Comments

  1. Grocery stores are loaded with processed foods (fake food) the produce begins & ends with chemical fertilizers,pesticides,herbicides,waxes,coloring & gases.Now glycosates & GMO foods!, and the FDA finds a problem with nuts and peanut butter–REALLY ??? AND, lets not even talk about the criminal treatment of animals in the meat & poultry industry!!! FDA, BIG PHARMA,BIG OIL,CHEMICAL COMPANIES , AMA are all in the same pot! Is the health of us,our animals and our planet important??? Let millions of Americans answer that! Then tell us why our hospitals & our prisons are full and why we are far down the list in education?

    • Hi Mickie, thanks for the comment. I totally agree with your outrage. It seems these government-funded bureaucracies use billions of dollars to micromanage our “health” and miss the big picture entirely. And important services like education, public health, and infrastructure suffer, because there isn’t enough money to go around. Cheers, FN