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Live to Eat or Eat to Live?

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This is actually a quote from the Greek philosopher Socrates.  Just think, even people thousands of years ago people knew the importance of proper nutrition, yet today we have the most information available and think we can live off of McDonald’s, Wendy’s and pre packaged, processes food and live normal lives.

Do you find yourself eating food when you’re not even hungry?  People, myself included, often eat food without even stopping to determine whether  we’re hungry or not.  This happens a lot when we eat out.  When you eat at a restaurant with a group of people you will eat more than normal for a couple of reasons.  First, you will be distracted by the conversation you are having with others at the table.  Second, the food is good, its in huge portions and you will be at the table longer than if you ate a meal in your own kitchen.

When I talk with people about losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight level, the first thing I tell them is to spread your meals out.  What this means is that if you normally eat 3 big meals a day increase that to 5 to 6 smaller meals throughout the day.  By doing this you are eating every 2 to 3 hours and you will find that you are not as hungry.  Plus you are fueling your body the entire day and keeping your blood sugar levels at a normal rate.  This is best because  instead of suffering from blood sugar spikes that cause you to crash and add excess body fat you will maintain positive energy throughout the day.

Living to Eat

What does it mean to live to eat? We are emotional eaters.  Many of us are emotional eaters.  We sometimes eat to relieve stress and find comfort in eating certain foods.  While I have not looked at statistics, I am willing to bet those of us at high stress jobs are more likely to be overweight than those in less stressful positions.  I witnessed this at my job where over half of the workers there were over weight and some were dangerously obese.  I work with people that think they can’t make it through a day without 10 cups of coffee or a six pack of sodas.  I hear many of them complaining about the way the feel: tired, sick, run down and stressed, just think of how their bodies feel with all of that junk they put into them.  I find it ironic that I see people eating these low calorie microwavable meals with a diet coke and then later see them drinking a route 44 from sonic with 115 grams of sugar inside!!!  Then when it was time to head home, I am sure many hit the pint of ice cream for their post dinner indulgence.

If you live in America, you know how easy food is to come by.  We are constantly being told to eat thanks to TV, radio and the internet.  This seems to screw with our natural cravings.  It’s like we only become hungry because food is always in front of our face.  So we only think we are hungry.  We eat and then a few hours later are bombarded again with more advertisements of food.  Time to go to Wendy’s!  No wonder we are a bunch of fatties.

These type of people are living to eat.  They don’t care to do the research on the food they put in their bodies and they don’t care what others say about the dangers of unhealthy eating habits.  I know because I used to be one of these people.  I worked out 4 to 5 days a week 2 or 3 hours at a time.  Then, go home and eat pizza and ice cream.  I used to tell people that I worked out so I could eat what I wanted, that was my philosophy.  It wasn’t until I was 35 years old that I woke up and decided to make a change.  Since then I have no desire to go back to my old ways of eating junk and feeling like crap!!  I have a family that I want to be an example for so they my two daughters can grow up and live healthy, productive lives.

Another problem with living to eat is that it has caused a huge obesity epidemic in America.  The fact is most people are very sedentary.  We wake up, go to work, sit for 8 hours and return home to sit some more until we hit the sack.  People like to argue and say they have a metabolic disorder.  They say “I eat the same amount that my grandparents used to eat and they were always thin.”  I wonder if working on a farm and doing manual labor had anything to do with them staying so slim?  The other one I like to hear is “its hereditery”.  Really, that may be the case, I’m definately not a doctor but do you think that people also pass down their eating habits to their children?  I know my parents did, I ate what they ate and most of the time it was not healthy.

If you are sedentary and desire to maintain your weight it’s most definitely a great idea to begin to manage your weight by watching what you eat and keep it at your maintenance intake.  Like I said earlier spread your meals out.  Now ideally, you will be doing both exercise and watching your diet for optimal results.  Working out a few times per week and burning some calories is a great way to lose weight but eating a proper diet is the biggest factor in losing weight.

 Eating to Live

What does it mean to Eat to Live?  Eating purely out of necessity is often hard to do because some food tastes so good.  Sometimes we eat a little too much or indulge a bit too often.  I am not telling you to completely limit your intake of what you really enjoy eating because that will only make you crazy.  

The bottom line is this – try to be mindful of what you are eating.  Think  about getting a balance of nutrients.  This means trying to get the right amount of vitamins, minerals and protein from the food you consume.  It may also mean taking a supplement to make up for what  you may not be getting enough of from your food sources – fiber, healthy fats and complex carbs are a few that come to  mind.  But, you say, “I can’t possibly walk through the grocery store or the  farmer’s market constantly thinking about which things have the right amount of  nutrients.  What should I buy?  What shouldn’t I buy?”  But what you can do is take a small amount of time and do some research  if you don’t already know. Simply learn what foods are rich in certain vitamins,  minerals and protein.  You don’t have to be “scientific” with it but simply have a rough idea about what different greens, root vegetables, legumes and so on  have to offer.  I promise in a short time it will become habit and get easier and easier.

Plan a weekly menu. Having a  meal plan seems to work really well.  Then, before you even need to go to the  market you can tweak the plan and decide what to eat and when to eat it.  And,  you can “balance” the nutritional aspect with the “creative” aspect of planning,  shopping and preparing your meals.

The “creative” aspect is the fun part.  It’s also where the “live to eat” idea  takes off!  Do you enjoy cooking?  How about experimenting in the kitchen? It’s  great fun to go through a number of cookbooks and plan the weekly menu while  trying to be as diverse as possible.  It’s fun to try a dish you never tried before. Preparing it is fun and tasting the result is even more fun. If you like  it, bookmark it for another time. If you don’t – chalk it up to “practice” and  cross it off your list.  But, whatever you do, enjoy the experience.  It’s also  fun to try to create your own recipes.  Or take a time-tested recipe from your  mom or grandma and change it to fit your needs – make it a vegetarian or vegan  recipe by substituting the items in the recipe that contain non-plant-based  ingredients with those you know are acceptable to a vegetarian or vegan  lifestyle.  Starting November 1st I’ve started a 60 day vegan challenge and I have already found some great new recipes.  You may also come up with a new and fun way to enjoy some of your  “old favorites.”


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