Is food just fuel?
This one drives me nuts so bear with me during this verbal diarrhea as I go through my stance on this and why you should view food as more than just fuel.
I’ll start with a couple questions. 1) Have you ever been to a social event that didn’t serve food? 2) Have you ever celebrated an event that didn’t in some way include food?
I guarantee you the answers to both of those questions is yes. If you got a no on either of them, please DM me, I’d love to hear about your life.
The thing about food is that yes, from a physical perspective, it is energy. Calories are energy and that’s the funny thing about them also because for most of us, we’re basically trying to restrict energy by eating less calories everyday (side tangent, think about how effed up that is?)
When we have excess energy, our bodies store it as fat. When we run low on energy, we burn up our stores of it (fat) and if we are out of that, we use break down muscle and convert it into energy. This is physiology 101 in just under a 100 words.
But if food was as simple as just finding the right type of energy source like going to the gas station and entering regular, premium or diesel gasoline, we wouldn’t be crying as we’re digging for the bottom of a heavenly hash tub of ice cream now would we?
No. Food and its reactions are far more complex in our lives. Our relationships with what’s on our plates, forks and spoons is far more important than that. The reality is that food can be pleasurable, enjoyable and community building in ways you may or may not have already imagined.
Since the start of time, we’ve been gathering around for events such as feasts. In the ice age, it was celebrating a successful hunt through cooking that food and enjoying it all together as a group. Over time, it’s evolved into celebrations around holidays and other parties and events. It’s a way for us to feel happy and share that happiness with other people. In fact at these celebrations, we often show off how good we are at making the most delicious foods, but have you ever been at thanksgiving and said, “man, we’re really getting in a lot of great fuel at this table now aren’t we?”
No, it’s ridiculous. It’s as ludicrous as assuming food is just fuel. This doesn’t even go into the dopamine reaction our body can go through when consuming something like ice cream when we’re feeling down on ourselves.
With that being said, how do we make a balance of using food as fuel for our workouts while also using food as happiness and in the positive ways?
It’s a million dollar question that has an answer as sexy as its definition--balance. Balance the way you’re eating and when you’re eating it. There’s going to be times when, for lack of a better term, you’re eating like an asshole and consume cake for supper and ice cream for dessert. There’s going to be times when you’re eating broccoli and chicken and are cleaner than a whistle.
Throw the good in with the bad and you get balance. Throw the good decisions out by making the bad decisions and you’re left with a f*#&ed up relationship with food. It’s that simple, I promise you.
The reality is that food is more than fuel and it’s meant to be. Some days will be good, others will be difficult and be “bad.” So what, get back on the wagon and try again.
To my knowledge, they aren’t taking Christmas off the calendar any time soon, so do you want to try to practice enjoying it manageably, or yo-yo like the millions of other people who are mentally consumed after being surprised when they overate on Christmas day?
A former journalist and sports blogger, I've turned my writing prowess and love of fitness and nutrition into a personal blog where you can find anything you are looking for on the world of health, nutrition and fitness.