When it comes to food, we eat food for a number of reasons. Essentially, we eat to support our physical, psychological and social health and wellbeing.
Food when metabolised provides our bodies with the energy to maintain homeostasis, to keep our hearts beating, our brain thinking and our legs moving. Food helps keep our bones and teeth strong. Food helps us to maintain our muscle mass to support our joints, our posture and stability, and keep our blood pumping. Food helps keep our skin lush, our hair shiny and our immune systems healthy.
Food also brings us satisfaction and pleasure. Let’s think about that feeling when you get home from work and tuck into a nice hearty home cooked meal? What about that nice glass of red by the fire when you’ve had a long day? And seriously, how good is that first sip of your morning strong skinny latte?
We may also eat to our emotions, like when we are sad, anxious, mad, angry or stressed. We can look to food for comfort, for stress relief or as a reward, rather than to simply satisfy our physical hunger.
Food brings people together, fosters a sense of friendship and is part of who we are.
What did you do on your first (or second or third) date?
What do we do when we are celebrating?
What do we do at christmas?
What do we do at funerals? Weddings? Christenings?
We share food.
If you’re travelling the world and go to a local village, what happens?
I’m willing to bet you’ll try something that’s native to the area.
What happened on your first day of your new job?
I know I enjoyed a beautiful carrot cake with my morning coffee.
So as you can see, food is more than just fuel to keep our bodies running.
I strongly believe that all these areas are essential to overall health and wellbeing, and trying to maintain that balance is important.
However, when I think about how many of society views food, it seems many are eating to prevent obesity, or we are eating to lose weight. When we encourage avocado on toast as a breakfast to boost monounsaturated fat intake (and folate, and fibre), we can be presented with ‘but isn’t avocado fattening?’. When dairy is encouraged to support strong bones and teeth, people are quick to put that in the weight gain category. (And yet, research shows that both avocados and dairy products have been shown to assist in weight management.)
Food is one of the great pleasures in life and means so much to so many people.
It’s meant to nourish our bodies, mind and soul. It’s not meant to be seen as simply a hindrance on our waistlines.
Just some food for thought.