Food is fuel

Food is fuel. That doesn’t sound like a revelation, does it? I mean, we all know food is fuel, it’s what keeps us going through the day, builds muscles, powers our brains.

But think of it again. Food is fuel.  If that’s all that food is, why do we obsess about it? Why do we eat too much of it? Why do we put in types of fuel that our body neither wants nor needs?

Imagine if you did that to your car – can you picture yourself at the gas station, filling up, and then when the tank is full, you just keep on pumping, so that it flows out all over the forecourt. People would think you were crazy.

Or imagine taking your nice shiny sedan out to a farm and filling it up with thick, sludgy farm diesel – it would ruin the engine.  Yet that is what we do to our bodies when we overeat, when we cram in junk food with no nutritional value.

What has happened is that over the past 100 years our attitude towards food has been profoundly changed, mostly by the advertising industry.

It is estimated that the average North American is bombarded with up to 1500 food related ads per day, each of which is dedicated to the message that food is so much more than fuel.

Food is now a lifestyle choice, a status symbol, a reward, a pleasure, a comfort, a celebration, and it is, above and beyond anything else, an emotional experience.

So what happens if instead, you go back to believing that food is fuel? Two consequences run from that. The first is that you naturally stop overeating. The second is that the quality of the food that you’re going to choose will naturally improve. We’ll look at each of these in turn.

Overeating is something that we have learned.  We learned it because we long ago forgot that food was fuel, and just like your car’s gas tank, we need to stop before we overfill it.

Thus we learned to clear out plate, regardless of how we felt. We learned to eat our school lunch quickly, because we were in a hurry.  We learned to sit and stuff our faces while watching TV, because that’s what everyone else does.  But when you realize once again that food is primarily fuel for your body, you start to ask different questions – such as what are the best foods that are going to fuel your body and give you energy, and how much of them should you eat?

Are the foods you are eating giving you the energy that you deserve? Are they giving you the energy that you need to live the life that you want to lead?  When looked at in this light, you start to make very different decisions about food. It’s not about what you have to give up or do without, it’s now about what do you choose to eat to be the person you want to be.

So when you begin thinking about food as fuel, it’s not about beating yourself up over the things you have to stop eating, it’s about making new decisions about
-How good you want to feel?
-How much energy you want to experience?
-How alive you want to be?

When this happens, controlling your weight becomes a lot easier.

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