Are you aware of “What” and “Why” you eat?


Are you aware of what and why you eat?

I would like to ask what food means to you and what are the reasons you eat the foods you do?

Firstly lets look at the definition of food.

Food:

Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins or minerals. The substance is ingested and assimilated by the digestive system to produce energy, maintain life, or stimulate growth.

Its quite simple really isn’t it? The above describes a physical reason for eating food.

Now lets look at some nonphysical reasons we eat food.

  • Socialising
  • Special events
  • To feel good
  • Habit
  • Stress reliever
  • Emotion
  • Reward

There are times in our lives when some of these nonphysical reasons are appropriate. Weddings, Birthdays, work functions, family gatherings and other social events.

On the other hand eating out of habit, as a stress reliever or as a reward, is not appropriate. Usually the type of foods consumed in these instances are high sugar, high fat, nutrient deficient and do not contribute to the primary task of energy production.

I have spoken to several clients about how they use eating or drinking to cope with stress or depression. The truth is these stresses can never be cured with food or alcohol. It may have short-term emotional relief but long-term physical damage.

Another nonphysical reason is habit. Habits or rituals such as eating in front of the TV, at regular social gatherings or before bedtime.

If we are looking at maintaining a healthy lifestyle through exercise and proper nutrition or want to lose weight, we need to become aware of “WHY” we eat food and “WHAT” the food we are eating will do for us.

Proper planning can help. If I have to attend social occasion where I know there will be inappropriate food on hand, I will eat beforehand.

To not be socially unacceptable I will scour the food on hand and eat the healthiest option available. I will partake in the occasional glass of wine but generally I’m happy to consume water.

Bad habits such as eating whilst watching TV can be hard to break. Try and limit your time in front of the TV and replace the food you’re eating with a healthy alternative. Even turn the TV of and go for a walk, do some stretching or rehab work or read a book on healthy eating or self-improvement. Try anything that will help distract you and break the old bad habit and create a good new habit.

The same could apply in stressful situations. At the end of a hard days work when everything’s bottled up inside, don’t turn to the bottle or the cake tin. Go for a walk or a jog and plan a healthy nutritious meal for dinner that evening. Chat to your partner or a friend and discuss your concerns with them.  “A problem shared is a problem halved”

I have created a mentality of “Food for Function” This has taken me several years to adhere to this concept. I have weaknesses (Fish and Chips) and I succumbed occasionally. Generally though everything I eat has a purpose. I look at how it will fuel my body for the day or a workout ahead, how it will aid in my recovery and how it will assist my digestive system. Anything that will have a negative effect on these functions is eliminated.

We don’t have to be so dogmatic in our approach to nutrition. There are times when a little indulgence wont kill us. However, problems will evolve when those indulgences and habits become regular occurrences.

What I’m suggesting is the next time you reach for that glass of red wine or block of chocolate, ask yourself, What is this going to do to aid in my endeavours to live a healthy lifestyle?