Why do you eat?
I think why is one of the most important questions that we can ask, and one that is often neglected as we just do what someone else says, does, or recommends. I think this is true with respect to food and nutrition as well.
There is no shortage of information on nutrition out there. The internet brings us more information with easier access than ever before. The quality of this information varies widely of course. I think that good information on nutrition is important, but until you ask yourself why you eat, it can all be irrelevant.
I think most, if not all of us, have knowledge of something that we could eat that would make us healthier. It is not always lack of knowledge. So if we already have things that we know we could eat to be healthier and we are not eating those, what value are we getting out of learning more things we could, but won’t eat? Some to be sure, but I think answering the why question is foundational.
Why do you eat? Some common responses are:
“To fuel my body”
“To give my body nutrients”
Reasonable answers, but is that the truth most of the time? Maybe it is.
Is your why ever because it tastes good? Mine is. How about because you are watching the game, or a movie, or are out with friends? Or because it is dinner time? How about because you are bored or upset? Me too. I think all of these are common reasons WHY we eat. The validity of these reasons is not the point, I just want to bring attention to WHY we are eating.
Is it ok to eat for these reasons? Absolutely, but I don’t want to eat for these reasons all the time. Is there value in going out for a nice dinner with my wife and sitting and drinking and having a meal that is probably less nutritionally ideal than what we would make at home? Absolutely. I think you could make an argument that this is a very healthy environment and activity sometimes. Are we going to McDonald’s? Probably not.
I have realized that I expect pretty much everything I eat to be absolutely delicious. Is there anything wrong with delicious food? Does delicious mean it is unhealthy? Nope.
But what about if I eat something that actually provides fuel, energy and nutrients to my body and maybe doesn’t taste amazing?
My why is increasingly more because I want to be healthy for my family now and in the future. I want to be able to play with my son (and ideally be better than him at sports) for decades. I want to be able to play with my grandchildren, help them with school, still be learning and growing my whole life. I want to be an example for my kids, my family, and my practice.
I want the same for my family, my friends, and my patients.
Does your why change how you think about food? Does it change what you put in your body? The choices you make? Absolutely.
Dr. Tyler Fix