Eat to Live, Not Live to Eat

Okay, this may be the holy grail of health and nutrition, and it is going to be a tough act to sell, but here goes. If we can’t get our desire for food under control, we cannot achieve what we want to achieve. The bad news is that most of the foods available to us (i.e. the unhealthy foods we have become accustomed to consuming) are addictive and they are designed that way.

The good news is that we have options available to us. These unhealthy foods are accessible because they are ready-made, and easy to slap together. If we can transition to making most of our meals ourselves, we can take control of what goes in them and what goes in us. Also, the addictiveness of these processed foods is due to the perfect balance of flavors and textures (salt, sweet, fat, and texture) - this is by design. But we can find substitutes for each of these ingredients that we can tolerate and even enjoy, and incorporate them into our diet, allowing us to break this kind of addiction.

Along with making major changes to what we are eating, we need to rethink our relationship with what we are eating. Food is supposed to be nutrition (what our bodies need every day to survive and thrive), not an experience. When food triggers our dopamine cycle, it reinforces the addiction and we become servants to our impulses and the food manufacturers that prey on this addiction.

If we are having a love affair with food, we need to break up and suggest that we still be friends (better yet, just end it and move on). Not being able to make this break will lead to a lifelong battle against an opponent that has no goal other than to make your trip down this path as difficult as possible.

Eating-to-Live May Be Next to Impossible

On the Eating-to-Live scale of 1 to 10, eating the purest forms of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, at only the optimum amounts being a 10, and being rolled out of the Stout Viking Smorgasbord in a food coma being a 0, positioning ourselves in the 7 to 8 range would give us the flexibility to make up the difference with exercise and strength training. Expecting to maintain a 10 in our daily diet is not realistic for most of us and sets us up for disappointment and complete failure.

Progressing on the Eating-to-Live spectrum will be a lifelong process for most of us, littered with slip-ups of pizza, ice cream, cakes, and all sorts of other mistakes. This is life, and we need to forgive ourselves for being human, recover, promise ourselves to try to do better, and maybe go out and try to burn off some of those mistakes.

So, eat smaller portions throughout the day, avoid your domino foods (the foods that defy quantity control), find your replacement foods, and focus as much on what your body needs as much as what it doesn’t. By placing the emphasis on eating what your body needs (and there’s a lot that it needs), you may find that you don’t have room for the stuff it doesn’t need.

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