A couple of months ago, my brother brought up the question as to the difference between healthy and healthful. I was on vacation visiting at the time and put it in the back of my mind to think about later. Writing my most recent post about my favorite snack made me recall that question. I’m always up for a healthful debate, so here goes:
Healthful vs. Healthy
According to the Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, the word healthful means “beneficial to health of body or mind” or contributing to good health. Healthy means “enjoying the state of good health” or being free of disease.
If we go by these definitions, it makes sense that things are healthful and people are healthy. Right? That would mean that all those eat clean diets out there are not healthy. That would also mean that we can’t eat healthy. Before you go digging into that ice cream, know this. We can eat healthful diets. And, yes, we can engage in healthful eating. We will be more healthy because of it. As with many words in our English language, there’s a tricky little inconsistency to keep in mind: if we are describing food as free of disease, we can refer to it as healthy. Otherwise, food that is conducive to health is healthful food.
Some have written off the use of the word healthful as trendy; they say just use healthy instead. Why bother with this? I say why not use our words correctly?
GG’s examples to help you remember the difference:
I ate a healthy breakfast. (wrongo)
I ate a healthful breakfast. (correctomundo)
I look healthy today after eating breakfast. (okey dokey)
I can eat healthy fruits to keep me free from illness. (right on)
Those healthful protein bars look good to me. (yes sirree)
Confused yet? If so, you’re in good company. I’ve seen these two words used interchangeably all the time. In GG’s opinion, though, it is unhealthful to mix the two.