Look at the following sentence.

In order to keep fit, we must eat healthy food.

Can we also say "eat healthy" and "eat healthily" to mean eat healthy food ?

In order to keep fit, we must eat healthy.

In order to keep fit, we must eat healthily.

Are they both correct or is either of them wrong?

Thanks for Kate Bunting's comment.

I am asking this because I know "go to bed hungry" makes sense and is quite different from "go to bed hungrily"

Does "eat healthy" also make sense?

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    'Healthy' is an adjective describing 'food'. If you leave out the noun, you need an adverb to modify the verb 'eat', so 'healthily' is the only correct choice. Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 9:31
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    In the case of "He went to bed hungry", it is "hungry" the adjectival complement you are using - as in "he went to bed tired", "he died rich" etc. "Hungry" is not describing the manner he went to bed - that would require an adverb e.g. "he went to bed quietly". It is describing the condition in which he went to bed e.g. "He went to bed convinced (of the argument he had just heard)".
    – WS2
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 10:21
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    Kate and WS2 are both correct but half of US America - on TV, in Hollywood and in print, anyway - and large parts of the UK have little idea what that means. In British English the clichéd example should be using The boy did good instead of … did well but that is normally amplified to The boy done good which makes the same point, but better or worse depending on your point of view. Does anyone doubt that rightly or wrongly, in US America eat healthy is as common as eat healthily? I feel that in the US that's due to true idiom and in the UK to pure ignorance, but that's a new point. Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 0:02
  • @RobbieGoodwin It is just that Americans never learnt to use adverbs. It is the same in Norfolk, and no doubt certain other regional British accents. But it's now the fashion, where someone does something incorrectly enough times to call it an idiom. The world would be a bit chaotic if the same principle applied in maths, wouldn't it!
    – WS2
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 0:43
  • WS2 It's so sad that you're quite right. Bugger! Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 17:51

2 Answers 2


‘Eat healthy’ has become a kind of buzz-word, or idiom purely by usage, so it is said like that, to represent the whole concept and world of ‘healthy eating’.

But it’s not really correct English. The correct way of saying it would be ‘eat healthily’.

In order to keep fit we must eat healthily. is correct.

Eat healthy is not correct.

By the way, if you ‘go to bed hungrily’ it could be inferred that it’s more than a snack that you’re after.


I think you should say ‘eating healthily’, because ‘healthily’ refers to how you are eating. I believe saying ‘eating healthily’, ‘healthy eating’, or ‘healthily eating’ would be correct. Just not ‘eating healthy’.

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    Apropos de rien, healthfully is of a more ancient provenance than healthily (1398 ᴀᴅ < 1632 ᴀᴅ).
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 19, 2019 at 1:31

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