Without stating the very obvious… without food we die. Food supports our bodies to live, survive and thrive in our environments.
Food is not just a FUEL source. We derive from the food we eat the building blocks of our muscles, bones, organs. Food provides the co-factors (vitamins and minerals) for the chemical processes to happen in the body. It provides the building blocks of our anti-bodies, supporting our immune system. Food can be medicine or it can be a poison! It is the difference between getting up on a Sunday morning for an fun activity or it can be the cause of you staying in bed all Sunday morning with a splitting headache.
Our body functioning optimally is only just a small part of why we eat!
We also eat for CONNECTION. Eating is a very social activity. It is something we do on special occasions like Birthdays and Holidays and New Year. And Mothers Day and Fathers Day. And a night out with the girls or night out with the boys. And going on a date, or going out on a date night. And Sunday lunch and just a catch up…. Need I go on…. The reality is that eating as part of a community and eating in search of connection is very well known and studied and very real! It’s something that we must be aware of and work with. Not work against.
The reality is that we also eat for PLEASURE. Now that can take a few different definitions. Starting with dopamine. The reward/pleasure pathway that lights up when we eat sweet foods. And the relaxation and the reality altering effects of alcohol as a central nervous system depressant. And the feeling of feeling full after a large meal.
Eating out of HABIT. Must be understood. Habits are formed through repetition. The more we do a certain thing. The more we re-enforce that behaviour. And over time it moves into our subconscious. Then it is a habit!
When it comes to food we have to consider anything that passes the lips. Not just ice cream, wine, bread, broccoli, kale, tomatoes. But also water, salt, vitamins, drugs/medications. But understanding WHAT is a part of the big picture. Also we must understand HOW, WHEN and WHY if we ever hope to make meaningful permanent healthy change.
The problem is that when we are fulfilling more than 3 emotional needs at the same time like connection, pleasure, reward, fuel, habit. Then the activity/routine is very addictive.
That means combining all these “WHYS” together we have a very powerful almost immovable set of behaviours. This can be as bad as it can be good.
Scenario 1. Event/Trigger stressful day at work. (Need to relax, connect with partner, re-fuel, and reward yourself for hard days work). Start with glass of wine (relax), cheese and crackers (habit with wine), order in Thai (reward, easy, with partner), chocolate biscuit to finish, maybe another glass of wine or night cap (reward, unwind, habit).
Scenario 2. Event/Trigger stressful day at work. Head straight to the pub for a drink with friends (reward, unwind, connection, pleasure for taste). Drink into oblivion and then grab some takeaway on the way home (because you should eat…?) Select whatever is convenient and enjoyable.
Scenario 3. Event/Trigger stressful day at work. Head straight to the gym for a Spin/Boxing class (unwind by refocussing and burning off stress hormones, reward of time back to yourself, connect with instructor and regular gym goers). Pick up on the way home ½ BBQ chicken (easy), cut up a large garden salad and eat with partner (fuel, connect), 1 glass of wine (2/week). Chocolate biscuit (2/week)
Notice how all these scenarios are connected with people. If you are the only one in your household that cares about being fit and healthy. You have an uphill battle from the first step. If you are the only one of your friends that cares about being fit and healthy you’re going to have a hard time. If you are surrounded by like minded people wanting to stay fit and healthy through a balanced approach it’s smooth easy, supportive and you will all hold each other to a high standard.