Why Do You Eat?

After attending two parties, I showed my nutritionist and trainer Ariane my food journal. Seeing her reaction to my starch and sugar heavy weekend was enough motivation for me to get back on track with clean eating. I’ve been successful the last few days with eating protein at every meal and lots of veggies.

My friend Raychelle, who is a wellness coach, forwarded me Nick Randall’s article on Self Growth as she knows that I’ve been on a long journey of weight loss. While I don’t experience sugar cravings like most people (the consistent intake of protein really helps) I constantly think of food. The first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning is eggs. When I get to work I’m already thinking about when to take my lunch break. When I exercise, I think of all the things I can eat after the work out- that’s the one thing that consistently gets me through long runs.

So after reading Randall’s article, I asked myself “Why do I love food so much?” and “Why do I eat?”

The obvious answer is fuel. It gives me the nutrients I need to live and energy so I remain active. The next obvious answer is pleasure– (most) food tastes good. Period. But if these two were the only reasons, there would be no need to overeat. It’s amazing what little we can live on. On days when I’m traveling or busy with work, I don’t think of food and I’m not hungry. In fact, I feel better when I eat less.

The desire for food is not just physical, it is also emotional. Food is often used to celebrate, relieve boredom, and comfort emotional distress or sadness. It’s also another outlet for greed, in other words gluttony.

Have you honestly explored why you (over) eat or choose to eat the wrong things?

Ironically for me, I discovered my reasons for wanting to eat by exploring my reasons for not wanting to eat. I recently purchased a box of Yogi Blueberry Slim Life Tea. The box says that it “energizes and helps suppress appetite.” It’s a placebo more so than a magic pill. Filling up on tea prevents me from snacking on other junk. And let’s not forget that often times hunger is mistaken for thirst.

Side Note: I’m drinking my yogi tea in my Central Park mug that Lisa gave me. Central Park is where I normally run and this mug encourages me to get out more.

Food is a great pleasure for me. When I’m not getting what I want/need out of my work, relationships, finances, work outs, and self image I turn to food as my instant gratification pill, or drug. I can imagine serotonin being released from my brain every time I put a piece of chocolate in my mouth. It makes me feel great. But the complete opposite is true too. When I deprive myself of food, or this pleasure, it is usually when I’m feeling the most low about myself. I usually tell myself that I can’t have something after seeing my weight on the scale, or catching myself from a bad angle in the mirror. Food then becomes my punishment. And then when I have the few opportunities to enjoy something, it becomes guilt. I almost feel as though I don’t deserve it because I’m not where I need to be. Even cheat meals are not as enjoyable because I feel I don’t deserve them.

Food should not be one’s source of reward or punishment. It’s fleeting. It’s like that bad boyfriend. If you have that kind of relationship with food, it will fail you every time and your body will hate you for it.

So I’ve decided that before every meal, I will pray. Not a “thank you for this meal” prayer but rather an “I eat this because I know it will nourish me and be good for me.” I will reflect on why I am eating and thanking G0d and my body for being healthy – for being able to walk the beautiful streets of NYC, for fighting cold cells inside, for being able to type… Whether you are religious or not, pausing a moment to reflect is a good way to prevent you from eating something you’ll regret later. Ask yourself: Is it because I’m hungry? Or because my boss just slammed my proposal?  Or because I feel low and I don’t care anymore? And will eating this (or not eating this) help solve the issue?

Why do you eat?

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  • “Regreat” is the most amazing typo ever.

    Regreat: (n) feeling of regret after eating something that isn’t healthy for you, or for a reason that isn’t healthy.

    • I just went and trademarked that word. Haha.

      Thanks for pointing that out, mcemilywrites. I edited it.

      • Aww. Amazing post, all around.

        I’ve been trying to take that moment to pray before I eat, to right-order my thinking about eating. Or rather, invite God to right-order my thinking about eating. I’m realizing how much I think of food in terms of reward and punishment. Not that I really think there’s anything wrong with a slice of cake for surviving another year or conning an incredible human being into marrying you.. but the flip side — the, well, now you have to eat nothing but cabbage soup for the rest of the week — seems a little harsh. Though I’m Polish. I really do love me some cabbage soup.

  • I agree, great post (and not just because of the pic of your mug!). We’ve discussed this a lot together, but there are so many reasons why I eat and I’m trying to do it less because of emotions. I know why I should eat, and how to eat, but that doesn’t always happen. I guess the good thing is that at least I’m conscious about it and I’m working on it. Right? I’ll always love a piece of really good dark chocolate and I’ll never give it up, but I should eat it a little less often and add a bit more kale to my plate instead!

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