What is a "healthy diet"?

From what I understand, RDI's are guidelines to avoid disease.

But, what about health?
1. What is a healthy balance of minerals to eat?
2. What should a B1->B12 complex look like, as inputs to the digestive system? See attached diagram.
3. When is the best time to eat Vitamin C?

The above 3 questions lead into further questions, such as: Should a meal be planned to maximize absorption of "fat-stored" vitamins, with the expectation they be stored for a different meal?


  • @AndrewBrown

    I'll do by best to answer your questions. :)

    The RDAs are determined from experimental study as the intake level of a nutrient that is essential for normal functioning for a particular age group and sex. The RDAs are actually intended for healthy people, as those with illness may need more or less of certain nutrients. In addition, while it's likely that disease risk may be lowered by hitting certain nutrient targets, this is not always the rationale for setting a target.

    For someone eating an omnivore diet, I'd aim for 100% of the default targets that are set. Some minerals, like iron and zinc, should be consumed above the RDA, while others (calcium) can be consumed below the RDA for those following a plant-based diet.

    I'm not sure I understand your question on B vitamins, but I would say that most balanced diets don't need supplementation (with the exception of plant-based and vitamin B12). Also, many B vitamins don't have an upper limit, so it's fine to consume them at >100% of the RDA.

    As far as the I know, there isn't an ideal time to consume vitamin C (although, it does help with absorption of non-heme iron).

    Fat-soluble vitamins are best absorbed with a source of fat, which is usually found without effort in most meals.

    Hope this helps!

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • This is 3100 calories from yesterday:

    I don't know anything about nutrition, so while it meets all guidelines, is this a healthy thing to do? What about a "fiber distribution" metric?

  • A few things you can look at to better interpret your nutrition:
    1. Was your sugar from natural or added sources (can find this out by hovering your mouse over sugar and seeing where sugar came from in your diet; don't worry about any naturally occurring sugars).
    2. Make sure you are taking vitamin D (unless you live in a warm climate where you can make vitamin D in your skin year round).
    3. Look at the overall quality of your diet - are your food choices from unprocessed sources (minimal ingredients, healthy cooking methods, etc.)?
    4. Do you limit restaurant/prepared foods?
    5. Do you limit alcohol?
    6. Are you drinking enough water?

    Overall, your nutrient intake looks fantastic, which suggests you are eating a healthy and balanced diet.

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Those are great questions to ask. I usually base my supplement intake on my overall summary in the evening. If I'm low on biotin, I take a supplement. I only get biotin with eggs or nutritional yeast. B12 - strangely - seems to be enough with 2 cups of green matcha tea and 16oz of kombucha. I log it as "GT's Kombucha Gingeraid" although I make my own, but I haven't found a way to correctly log that yet. The sugar content in Kombucha is high at the start, but the scobi eats most of is up in fermentation. So I'm listing the commercial kombucha.
    My doctor keeps wanting me to take fish oil, but according to my listing, I get enough Omega-3 with our daily smoothie. She goes by 1125 EPA/875DHA, but I don't know how to look that up in cronometer. If I take one of those pills, then I'm way over the limit of Omega-3. The total of one of those pills is 2150mg, whereas the set target in cronometer is 1.1g; I get 1.3 with the smoothie. A lot of this is very confusing, but I haven't found anybody yet to help me set it up in cronometer; I'm just playing with it on my own for the last 2 years. I went to the Naturopath and the dietician both and they just said "don't worry about it, you're doing fine". :D Well, I'm not worried, just addicted to data. I love logging my recipes and adjusting them accordingly to reach my targets. ;) I'm using this more as a guideline, and I know it's not completely correct since logging recipes doesn't always reflect the correct state of the food. I can't log cooked onion when I'm making stew. I weigh all the veggies raw and then cook them. It's not feasible to pull the stew apart to figure out how much cooked onion, garlic, carrots and peppers are in there, or cook all ingredients separately. Similar questions come up when I make sourdough bread. How does the nutritional value of different flours (rye, emmer, barley, einkorn) change with baking? It always lists "alcohol" and a high component because I use beer in my bread, but the alcohol kinda bakes off at 500F!! Nevertheless, it's good to know that if I have three slices of my bread @ 135 g that's usually about 300 cal. But it's real bread, not wondershit. ;)

  • Cut the carbs, up the fat to 70-80% of your cals and protein to 20-30% of your cals. Eat ruminant meat, especially Organ meat like Liver, Heart, Kidneys and Brain. The best Fat source is Tallow. Get at least 4000 IUs of Vitamin D and around 9000mg of sodium.

  • I simplified the diet a lot:




    If you put the corn, peas, and broccoli in a crock pot, takes 5 minutes in the morning. Boil an egg. Add salt.

  • A nutritionist informed me that corn & peas do NOT create a complete protein (but it seems to add up in Cronometer).

  • @AndrewBrown

    Plant foods aren't missing any essential amino acids; they are just low in a few of them. So if you eat a lot of these foods, you can technically meet your amino acid requirements.

    If someone is following a plant-based diet, it's still important to include concentrated sources of protein like pulses, soy, and seitan that have better protein absorption than vegetable and grain sources of protein (and supply iron and zinc).

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • I'm here for the calories, but the bright colors on my Diary draws me in....

    To simplify it for the simple, Green is good, Gold is middling, Red is bad, and blank isn't registering enough for a color?

    btw, I'm male, 63, 160 lb-ish, 5'10", 14.5% body fat, metabolic age of +/- 25 yo. 50% office, 50% construction.

    Here's my week in review and it's pretty much the same week after week after week… I'm eating healthy?

  • Older, that looks pretty good. I've found the most difficult part of Cronometer to be digesting the food. Making everything green is one thing, but can you digest it?

    What is your diet, if you don't mind sharing?

  • Andrew, ohyeah, I can digest and that's the problem.

    It's literally 99% home cooked meals and we all cook really well.

    At my heaviest-- around 20 years ago-- I was 205 with 14% body fat. Hated the weight, though. That's when portion control happened for me.

    Haven't willing eaten at a restaurant in 40 years. Will get a veggie Papa Murphy, if I'm lazy.

    Once a week: fish, chicken.
    Five times a week: vegetarian
    Saturday breakfast: eggs, bacon
    Sunday breakfast: pancakes, bacon
    Weekday breakfast: oatmeal, raspberries or blueberries, toast with a swipe of real butter.

    Lunch: crackers and cheese or peanut butter. Depends on the calories I'm burning, too. I might splurge with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

    Once every month (don't like it, really): red meat.

    water, water, water. I have an R.O system at home that deliveries fresh water all the time.

    coffee. no soda evah; 50 years since I drank a soda. rarely any candy.

    That's about it. Nothing is in stone, except for the portion control and fresh food.

  • @Older

    Generally speaking, green = good, yellow = improvement needed (if consistently low), red = too high (usually just a concern with supplements. I never recommend supplementation based on one day or week of intake; try to look at your average intake over several months to see if anything is missing.

    Use the oracle (if you have a gold account) to help you figure out how to meet these nutrients from food. If you need it, a supplement can help.

    A few notes on your diary:

    • Aim to include generic protein foods (i.e. not name brand) to see if your low amino acids are a result of the food you eat or the foods you choose in the database
    • To round out your diet, include a daily serving of nuts/seeds (pumpkin seeds are very nutritious) and plenty of leafy greens.

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • @Susan_RD_101
    Thanks for that! I found the Oracle and will use it.

    Peanuts and other seeds aren't good for my gums; not worth the pain. I do snack on purely organic, salt-free peanut butter, though. A few tablespoons a day.

    Speaking of supplements, I found the "supplement switch", turned it off, and was kinda surprised at the boost my "Over-50 Men's Ultra Huge Multi Vitamin" gives me. No complaints, though....

    All Time View:

  • I have been following this plan with some success:

    Right now, I am dropping peanut butter and adding calories from other sources. But, it’s a good start.

  • Hi an sorry for reviving he thread. Presonally for me a healthy diet si counting calories and eating no more than 1500 calories per day.

  • The diet that really works is different for everybody. It all depends on you and to find your nutritional convenience for you. My diet consists of alive foods, all vegetables, fruits, and so on. I eat only small gates and the same hours every day. I am eating 5 times a day at the same time.

  • Shorter George: People have been brainwashed by the Health Food Industry in different ways. There should be a reality show where people pound their chests and tell you about how they micro manage their diet based on stuff they read on the internet.

  • Yes, of course! Like I said that everyone should find their diet if they really want to be healthier. But besides food, everyone should practise sport.

  • We should filter a lot of stuff before to practice one!

  • Diets for people with medical conditions add another dimension to the healthy diet mix. I have heart disease and so aim to follow the American Heart Association dietary guidelines. Age also makes a difference. Older adults need a bit more protein.

  • Menu plans from the US Department of Health & Human Services:


    Pretty good! Our tax dollars at work!

  • This thread reminds me of a joke: "How do you pick a fight? Walk into a vegan restaurant and ask 'is honey vegan?"'

    Here you are @AndrewBrown , stepping into a health/fitness forum and asking "what is healthy?" Lmao!

    What did you ultimately decide on for your definition of "healthy?"

    My definition of healthy (for myself) is:

    • Sleeping uninterrupted through the night.
    • Sleep habits such that I fall asleep within a few minutes at bed time & wake up at ~ the same time every morning without an alarm.
    • Carry 10-12% body fat (I'm male)
    • Be able to do a workout without dying to DOMS the next day & day after.
    • Be able to run a 5k without hating life and/or the person who suggested I run the 5k.
    • Be mostly* free of recreational drugs *(I'll get drunk 2-3x/year; no pot).
    • Have no obvious nutrient deficiencies.

    I'm 42. As I age, I expect to adjust these requirements, but I hope to always:

    • Be able to pick up my grandkids (at the ages they want to be picked up, heh).
    • Be able to climb stairs.
    • Be able to do pullups
    • Be able to hike a few hours with a backpack.
    • Be able to work with my hands for a few hours a day, a few days a week.

    I'm learning over time that "healthy" ranges of indicators of risk can vary dramatically by individual. Have you ever read the history of the "optimal" 98.6 body temperature? It's fascinating. My takeaway is that it doesn't do all that much good to look at one, especially in the absence of other symptoms, and draw any conclusions -- so I look at a higher level: "what do I want to do? What can I do? What can I not do? What is important to me?"

  • @wmarler

    I love this answer as "health" should always encompass more than just physical well-being! Mental health, social and emotional health, sleep health, etc. all play a role in our risk of developing certain health conditions.

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

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