As part of a dietary regimen, cooking light would certainly lend itself to eating well, or healthily. But in terms of comparing Cooking Light and Eating Well magazines, the two have the same fundamental approach but marked differences otherwise.
Launched in 1990, Eating Well magazine seems to take the more connotative, strict approach to diet and nutrition. Like Cooking Light, its editorial is influenced by a panel of nutritionists and recipe developers.
One of the biggest differences for Cooking Light magazine, a mere three years older than Eating Well, is the backing it had from the largest, most popular regional magazine, Southern Living. Interest in Southern Living’s monthly “Cooking Light” column grew into cookbooks of recipes for the lighter way of life, which sold out two and three times over. Finally, only a monthly magazine satiated the growing desire to eat better.
Today, Cooking Light magazine counts a healthy 1.75 million subscribers in its
circulation, whereas Eating Well’s numbers are 350,000.
Overwhelmingly, online reviews praise Eating Well for its range of recipes that are simple enough for novices, yet still challenging for seasoned chefs. Among its highlights, readers say, are its useful recipe index, which provides caloric, fat, carbohydrate, fiber and sodium content for each dish.
While some appreciate the use of ingredients that aren’t overprocessed, others find it difficult to locate them in smaller cities and towns. Inexperienced cooks have felt they weren’t knowledgeable enough to make substitutions, though experienced cooks say they’ve made changes employing what was on hand or items even less expensive than those initially called for in a recipe.
Recurring complaints are that Eating Well magazine includes a lot of recipes using meat, or that its content is leaning toward becoming redundant and preachy regarding sustainability issues. However, as other readers pointed out, Eating Well does not bill itself as a vegetarian publication.
On the other hand, Cooking Light magazine’s use of simple ingredients is applauded by readers, but some aren’t comfortable with what seems to be its “new” approach to what is healthy. For example, its May 2010 issue features a spread on pizzas, most of which hover near 20 grams of fat per serving. Other such content that drew a similar response was the article titled “10 Nutrition Myths that shouldn’t keep you from the foods you love!” That feature seemingly OK’d added sugar and fried foods in a “healthy” diet.
This new direction was introduced with editor-in-chief Scott Mowbray, who has been in place at Cooking Light since the December 2009 issue. The slightly relaxed attitude, he says in an April Washington Post article, is meant to spark discussion with the dietary caveat that one flavorful ingredient or item in moderation does not destroy an overall healthy lifestyle.
This approach may well draw more readers to Cooking Light magazine. And for those it might drive away, Eating Well magazine may just be the all-around “healthier” alternative they want.