I’ve been thinking about this lately after hearing people talking about food being fuel and how if we viewed food as fuel than that would help diminish negative thoughts revolving around food.
While I totally agree that yes, food is a gift to fuel and nourish our bodies, I don’t think that food is just fuel. And we shouldn’t view ourselves as machines that simply need “fuel.”
When we see food just as fuel, then we set these high expectations to control ourselves around food. It’s as if we shouldn’t want or eat certain types of food because, well…food is just fuel.
But really, food to an extent gives us pleasure. And pleasure plays a huge role in our biological function. It’s how our body tells us what kind of food and how much food to eat. If we tune into what our bodies are telling us, we are better able to nourish our bodies well and satisfy those pleasure receptors in our brain.
Like on this WIAW morning after drinking a smoothie, a creamy bowl of oatmeal sounded awesome. I made a big batch of steel cut oats on Sunday. But I haven’t been craving hot oats this week, I’ve wanted cold and creamy. So I’ve been stirring in about 1/4 cup canned coconut milk + 1/2 cup pumpkin for the ultimate creaminess. Then adding blueberries and topping this bowl of goodness with coconut oil and sunbutter.
If we are simply viewing food just as fuel and eating what we “think we should,” then we are always feeling chronically unsatisfied. And we are always thinking about all the foods we “shouldn’t eat” and can’t have and that can begin to consume us. We fantasize and think about our next meal before we’ve even finished the one we have in front of us. And this thought process is a perfect set up for binging down the road. And binging then leads to making us feel guilty and shaming ourselves for “not having enough willpower.”
Because we aren’t always eating by ourselves and “fueling” up for the next part of our day. Sometimes we are eating lunch by ourselves at home or at work. Like yesterday, I had a big spinach salad with tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper and balsamic + olive oil along with a bowl of Jenna’s babganoush soup [so good!] some spicy seedy crackers and a juicy orange.
And then other days we could be at weekend BBQ or out to lunch with friends or it could be Thanksgiving afternoon. Food is something we share with others. It’s something we celebrate with. And food is something we should enjoy.
Our world is not uber healthy all the time. If we ignore this fact and think it is, then we feel guilty when we eat pie on Thanksgiving or delicious pizza while in Italy. And this false assumption hinders us from fully enjoying celebrations and holidays and traveling. We let food hold us back from fully living and experiencing, instead of allowing food to support us in living extraordinary, full lives.
Food is both fuel to get us through the afternoon and it’s also pleasure. Because I really enjoy afternoon snacks. Like chocolate chia pudding with coconut chips and these delish kale chips with homemade spicy hummus. And I’m certain that this bag is one serving, not three. Sorry Brad.
Lastly, eating IS emotional. After a long, hard day and another bout of snow [wtf?!] we don’t want to chomp on a cold, crispy salad. We want something comforting and warm and something that satisfies our body and soul. Like a bowl of chickpea curry stew I made Monday morning and roasted butternut squash with coconut sugar and coconut oil on top. And some roasted asparagus because it’s in season and absolutely delicious.
Because eating is emotional and it’s why we crave and love our momma’s home cooking or grandma’s perfectly baked cookies at Christmas. And while we don’t want to nourish our feelings and emotions with food because we don’t want to feel those feelings, and we don’t want to eat food for comfort or view food as our refuge in lieu of other coping mechanisms, because that’s not healthy–it’s okay to have emotional connections to food. Telling ourselves we’ll never “eat emotionally” only sets us up to shame ourselves when we do. And that can lead to binge eating and then promises to ourselves the next day to “eat super clean” and sweat super hard.
And if we allow ourselves to have that something sweet that we’re craving instead of resisting day after day after day, then when we do eat something sweet we probably aren’t going to overeat it because we are promising ourselves we won’t eat again for 7 more days.
Dessert isn’t on a pedestal. It’s equivalent to kale and we should eat a little dessert every day.
Because food isn’t just fuel. It’s give us pleasure and it’s something we enjoy and celebrate with others, and it is emotional.