Back in January, SELF made a commitment to spend the year redefining four core elements of wellness through both a personal and public health lens, starting with food. Our goal was to upend our society’s historically restrictive view of what “healthy eating” really means. Green smoothies are great and all, but no one type of food should monopolize the meaning of healthy eating. But here we are, with so many of us buying into the idea—even unwittingly—that healthy eating essentially comes down to produce and protein. “It’s well past time to redefine healthy eating. Because healthy eating isn’t just about nutrients and superfoods and trendy diets; it’s also, crucially, about food access and sustenance; about fuel and nourishment; and about community and culture. And the way we talk about healthy eating should encompass all of that,” our then-editor in chief Carolyn Kylstra wrote at the time.
So, to figure out what healthy eating really means, we decided to explore the topic through three essential pillars. The first pillar, physical health, encompasses vitamins, nutrients, that kind of stuff—not surprising when it comes to healthy eating as a concept, right? But then there’s the second pillar, emotional health, which is all about how the way we eat influences the way we feel and vice versa. Our final pillar, community health, is about how food—our access to it, our production of it, our consumption of it—shapes our health as a collective and as a planet. None of these pillars is more or less important than the others. Instead, each one is a vital piece of the overarching healthy eating puzzle.
Since January, we’ve published articles investigating potential solutions to food insecurity and advice on how to combat the food guilt so many of us grapple with daily. We’ve asked registered dietitians to describe their favorite meals from their cultures and reiterated why carbohydrates are, in fact, not the enemy. There’s so much more—you can check out all of our recent coverage on these three pillars right here. And to drive home that healthy eating really is an individual thing, we published 10 Grocery Diaries, each one offering a snapshot of how different people shop for food with their physical and emotional health (and that of their loved ones) in mind.
Now, as SELF’s interim editor in chief, I’m thrilled to share our March digital cover: Eat Well. In it, we celebrate 16 people whose work embodies our multifaceted definition of healthy eating. You’ll meet registered dietitians championing the simple joy of eating and a farmer growing crops as an act of food sovereignty. You’ll meet a certain tenacious host of Taste the Nation and Top Chef and an innovator creating animal products from cell cultures. Independent food and culture journalist Esther Tseng interviewed these trailblazers, drawing out the gems of healthy eating insight they had to share. Then SELF’s health editor Carolyn Todd and associate food and fitness director Christa Sgobba diligently combed through Tseng’s reporting and their own research to paint a vivid picture of each person we’re honoring. Sally Tamarkin, SELF’s former features director, was instrumental throughout this process as an independent sensitivity reader, helping us to make sure we were doing justice to the incredible work this group of people is doing. Finally, creative director Amber Venerable commissioned beautiful illustrations from artists Diana Ejaita, Jordan Moss, Abbey Lossing, and Asia Pietrzyk, working with associate art director Morgan Johnson to turn the designs into digital covers. Call it the cherry on top.
Head over to our March digital cover story to see SELF’s list of people revolutionizing our cultural notion of what healthy eating really is. And eat well, friends.