Back in January, SELF committed to spending the year redefining four core elements of wellbeing from both personal and public health perspectives, starting with food. Our goal was to improve our society’s historically restrictive view of what “healthy eating” really means. Green smoothies are great, but no type of food should monopolize the importance of healthy eating. But here we are because so many of us – even inadvertently – subscribe to the idea that healthy eating essentially boils down to production and protein. “It has long been a thing of the past to redefine healthy eating. Because healthy eating is not just about nutrients, superfoods and trendy diets. Access to food and nutrition, via fuel and nutrition, and community and culture, is also crucial. And the way we talk about healthy eating should encompass all of that, ”our then editor-in-chief Carolyn Kylstra wrote at the time.
In order to find out what healthy eating really means, we decided to examine the topic based on three main pillars. The first pillar, physical health, includes vitamins, nutrients and the like – not surprising when it comes to healthy eating as a concept, right? But then there’s the second pillar, emotional health, which is about how the way we eat affects the way we feel, and vice versa. Our final pillar, Community Health, is about how food – our access to it, our production, our consumption – shape our health as a collective and as a planet. None of these pillars are more or less important than the others. Instead, each one is an integral part of the overarching healthy eating puzzle.
Since January, we’ve been publishing articles exploring possible solutions to food insecurity and providing advice on tackling the food debt that so many of us grapple with on a daily basis. We asked registered dietitians to describe their favorite dishes from their cultures and repeated why carbohydrates are actually not the enemy. There’s so much more to it – you can check out all of our current coverage of these three pillars here. And to drive home that healthy eating is really an individual thing, we published 10 Shopping diariesEach of them provides a snapshot of how different people buy food for their physical and emotional health (and that of their loved ones).
Now, as interim editor-in-chief of SELF, I am delighted to be able to introduce you to our digital cover for March: Eat Well. We celebrate 16 people whose work embodies our multifaceted definition of healthy eating. You will meet registered dietitians who advocate the simple joy of eating and a farmer who grows grain as an act of food sovereignty. You will meet a certain tough host Taste the nation and Top chef and an innovator who creates animal products from cell cultures. Independent food and culture journalist Esther Tseng interviewed these trailblazers and pulled out the gems of healthy eating insight they needed to share. Then Carolyn Todd, SELF’s health editor and associate food and fitness director Christa Sgobba carefully combed through Tseng’s reporting and her own research to paint a vivid picture of each person we honor. Finally, Creative Director Amber Venerable commissioned beautiful illustrations from artists Diana Ejaita, Jordan Moss, Abbey Lossing and Asia Pietrzyk and worked with associate art director Morgan Johnson to turn the designs into digital covers. Let’s call it the cherry on top.
Visit our March digital cover story to see how SELF’s list of people is revolutionizing our cultural perception of what healthy eating really is. And eat well, friends.