Ok Internet, We Need to Talk.

So as I’ve been increasing my interest in both cooking and healthy eating, I’ve spent a fair amount of time searching the internet for healthy recipes I can try. As a result, I’ve noticed something: a significant portion of the internet has no idea what healthy means.

Now in some cases this is understandable; for example, I recently found an entire blog dedicated to healthier recipes for baking. She does a really great job making recipes that are significantly healthier than a typical, comparable recipe, and I intend to make a huge number of things on her site, but there is a limit to how healthy things can be when you’re baking. And that’s fine.

What’s not fine is when people post things like “extra super cheesy bacon squash mac and cheese” and pretend that it’s healthy because they used squash instead of wheat pasta. I’m sorry, internet, but that’s just not how it works. You don’t get to pretend that unhealthy dishes are suddenly healthy just because you took out the gluten; gluten isn’t even bad for you, unless you have celiac disease.

My problem with recipes such as these that claim to be healthy is due to a variety of factors. For starters, regular, pork bacon is never going to be healthy. Ever. It’s incredibly delicious and surprisingly fewer calories than you’d expect, but it’s not healthy. It’s a fatty meat that’s been very processed, probably has excessive sodium, and is generally fried. So while bacon is one of the foods I almost certainly could not live without, and I will absolutely continue to eat it, I do that with the understanding that it’s never going to be healthy, because unfortunately it’s just not. And the number of “healthy” recipes out there that also involve copious amounts of bacon is absurd. It’s not just bacon either; the insane quantities of cheese that would be involved in a recipe like the one I mentioned above is likely not going to be very healthy either. Many of these “healthy” recipes consistently have a variety of unhealthy components.

But then there’s also the other side, and that’s the “eliminating carbs suddenly makes my recipe better” side. Also not true. You can make gluten-free baked goods that are still pretty unhealthy. Bacon is gluten-free but, as mentioned above, is not healthy. Heck, you can even eat a stick of butter and say that’s gluten-free – but that’s going to be 960 calories of pure fat and I don’t think anyone even needs to be told that that’s not healthy. Removing the carbs or gluten from a recipe does not inherently make that dish healthier,* especially if you then completely disregard the nutritional merit of everything else you add to said dish.

So please, internet,  I beg of you. If you want to pass recipes off as healthy, figure out what that actually means first. Posting whatever you feel like and saying it’s better because of some minor, insignificant change, is both frustrating and misleading. And it’s not cool. So stop it.

*I promise I have a post coming about carbs that’s half-drafted in my folder, I just haven’t had the time to locate good sources online and couldn’t quite make the flow come together the way I wanted it to. But it will come. And I have plans to address other popular diets in the future as well. Stay tuned!

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