Defining A Healthy Diet: Challenges and Conundrums


  • Paul Branscum
  • Manoj Sharma



healthy diet, nutrition, healthy eating behaviors


As researchers and practitioners, we are often asked the question ‘what makes up a healthy diet.’ The purpose of this commentary was to bring light to this issue, and help define important behaviors that lead to consuming a healthy diet. A brief background of dietary recommendations is provided, including recommendations for macronutrients and micronutrients, as well as foods and food groups. After reading this commentary, it should be clear that whereas the concept of a healthy diet can be vague and abstract, there are key recommendations that help discern healthy and unhealthy eating. Also, even though the term healthy diet may be too vague for scientific investigation, social and behavioral scientists can predict and change behaviors related to a healthy diet, including those related to Dietary Reference Intakes [e.g., “Consuming between 900 and 3000 micrograms of Vitamin A everyday of the week” (for an adult man)] and MyPlate recommendations (e.g., “Consuming at least 4 oz (or equivalent) of whole grains, every day of the week”). Guidance on defining appropriate behaviors for scientific investigation and practice is presented.

Author Biographies

Paul Branscum

Paul Branscum, Assistant Professor, University of Oklahoma, Department of Health and Exercise Science, 1401 Asp Avenue, Norman, OK 73019 

Manoj Sharma

Manoj Sharma, Professor, Behavioral & Environmental Health, School of Health Sciences, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS



How to Cite

Branscum, P., & Sharma, M. (2020). Defining A Healthy Diet: Challenges and Conundrums . American Journal of Health Studies, 29(4).

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