Should You Live to Eat or Eat to Live?


Which of the following describes you best?

  • I’m a self-proclaimed foodie. I am super interested in all things dining-related. I love going out to restaurants and trying new things – it’s my hobby. I also enjoy experimenting in the kitchen with different recipes and cooking methods.

OR

  • I eat purely out of convenience or hunger. Eating is more of a chore to me and I treat it as a task on my to-do list. I tend to eat on a catch-as-can basis, and when I cook it’s more for function because I need to eat something over pleasure of eating.

OR

  • It can be either one depending on the circumstances.

Which is better for your overall health?

This is a trick question because it is not about either really. You don’t have to be a foodie to eat well and enjoy better health, nor is it just about treating food as sustenance for mere survival.

We’re all seeking a better quality of life for ourselves, and a big contributing factor to this is the way we eat. The food you eat literally becomes a part of you; you are inextricably linked to food. And because of this, a better quality of life depends on how you treat your food. Do you treat it as a friend or foe? Do you truly value the food you’re eating?

We can harbour a lot of bad feelings about food and eating. We feel guilty after eating pizza, regret about having that big piece of pie, anxious about making sure we eat “clean”, out-of-control when we see ice cream, angry when the portion size is too small, doubt whether that apple really is organic, cranky when we’re hungry, and have an all-around sense of confusion about our food choices and disappointment in our eating habits.

And whatever energy we put out into the Universe via our thoughts, emotions, and actions always comes back to us (Law of Cause and Effect). If you put negative energy out, you will get negative energy back in some form or fashion. But if you focus on giving positive energy, then you’ll receive positive energy in return. What energy do you want to put out there about food? Which will be benefit your sense of well-being and which will hinder it?

No matter how many attempts we make at changing the way we eat through diet plans, willpower, and the like, if we don’t change how we approach food, things will always go back to how they were.

“Having a healthy relationship with food can act like a life jacket, protecting you from the worst excesses of the obesogenic world we now inhabit…This is not about being thin. It’s about reaching a state where food is something that nourishes and makes us happy rather than sickening or tormenting us.”

As author Bee Wilson in her book First Bite writes, “Having a healthy relationship with food can act like a life jacket, protecting you from the worst excesses of the obesogenic world we now inhabit…This is not about being thin. It’s about reaching a state where food is something that nourishes and makes us happy rather than sickening or tormenting us.”

If we alter our perceptions about eating, I believe we can then successfully change the way we eat to achieve better health. Two excellent places to start cultivating a loving relationship with food is through mindfulness (summed up as paying active attention to the eating experience and how you feel) and gratitude (regularly giving thanks and appreciating everything and everyone it took to get the food to you).

Treat eating as a daily source of enjoyment instead of something to fight against. It is possible to desire vegetables, instead of regarding them as something you have to/should eat even though you rather would not. You can learn to take pleasure in nourishing yourself and valuing mealtimes as highlights of your day where you can spend time with others and simply pause from the hustle and bustle. So many times I hear that people skip meals or eat quickly because they are too busy. But think how much more productive and clear-minded they would be if they took this timeout to replenish themselves.

Now whether you live to eat or eat to live, in either case it is about actually eating food. Let’s create a healthy relationship with it to experience all the benefits!

In the comments section below, share your single biggest insight from this post and what action you can take right now to implement it.

References (and my many thanks to):

Wilson, Bee. First Bite: How We Learn to Eat. New York: Basic Books, 2015. Print. (http://beewilson.squarespace.com/artists/#/julien-clarke/)

#diet #optimal #eating #beliefs #mind #habits

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