Food and Eating
By Jerome Dechant
Aug. 30, 2011
Preface: I speak primarily of food in this writing, but intend this writing to also include drink as well, therefore when I’ve written “food” you may also consider it in your mind as saying, “food and drink.”
What is food? It is the substance which we consume to fuel and maintain our body so that it functions properly. If we simply considered food and drink as fuel for our body, and only consumed it when our body required more fuel, we would likely find our body functioning properly and being maintained in an idea state. Of course what we eat is just as important as how much of it we eat, but for the time being, I’d like to consider the “how much” part and consider the “what” part later.
Think about your body in a similar way to your car. You only put fuel in your car when the fuel gauge indicates the level is getting low. Obviously, if your fuel gauge indicated your fuel level was slightly below full, you wouldn’t add more fuel to the tank, because if you did, as though the tank was empty, the fuel would overflow. That is because our car’s fuel tank is a fixed size and can only hold so much fuel. On the other hand, our body has the ability to take on the fuel we provide it, and exceed the capacity of our fuel tank by enlarging the system which has to do with the intake and consumption of fuel. Unlike the car, our physical body can build up fuel reserves throughout our body for later use as needed. These fuel reserves in our body are known as fat. If we are in the habit of consuming more food/fuel than our body requires, it automatically converts much of that excess food to fat and in this way, our body becomes overweight.
It would be a simple matter if consuming food was solely based upon our need to fuel our body. We would simply consume food only when our body required it.
This brings to light the fact that we consume food for more reasons that just to fuel our body. I can speak personally, that one of the reasons I eat is because I delight in what I get to eat. The flavors and textures and the variety of foods available make consuming food a wonderful experience. This alone can lead to eating more than our body requires due to our delight in savoring what we are eating.
Also, eating is often a communal activity where we partake of the food we have, and share it with others. In this way eating is a social activity as well, a form of communal sharing and interacting. What arises out of this reason for eating? For one thing, we may be encouraged to eat when our body doesn’t require more fuel, and we may also be encouraged to eat more than we need to, to please our host and express our enjoyment of the food provided.
People often form the habit of eating as a reward system for themselves. And others may eat as a distraction for other problems they are experiencing in their life. If you think about it, you can probably come up with a very long list of reasons why people eat which have nothing to do with maintaining the health and well-being of their body.
The reason I’ve written this is so that you might consider the reasons why you eat, and in so doing become more conscious of what motivates you to eat. Knowing this can be helpful to move towards a healthier relationship with food and its consumption. It can also contribute to reducing the over-consumption of food for reason not having to do with fueling the body.
What we eat is also very important. This is a much more complicated topic to address because of the variety of possible fuels/foods we can consume. Some consumables are beneficial to our health and well-being while others are less beneficial or even harmful to our health and well-being. Aside from this, there are also other reasons why people eat what they do. Just like the reasons why we eat more than we need to, there are similar reasons why we eat what we eat, and other reasons which don’t have anything to do with the body’s nutritional needs.
It is important to develop a healthy relationship with what you eat just like developing the healthy relationship with how much you eat. If you are eating foods that you know aren’t good for your body, that don’t promote optimal health and well-being, it may be worthwhile considering whether you want to choose to continue consuming food which are not beneficial to your health and well-being.
With your car, if you fuel it with substances which aren’t appropriate for the engine’s usage, your car won’t work properly for you, if it works at all. Using the proper fuel for your car is very important to facilitate it’s functioning as it should. In the same way, fueling our body with the proper food is essential for our body to function as it should.
One more thing, you may have noticed that I haven’t indicated how much you should eat and or what you should eat. The reason are because, you get to choose how much you eat and what you eat based upon your own needs, and really that is most important. There are people who can give you guidance on the “how much” and the “what” part, but ultimately, your body will be the best indicator for you which lets you know the proper “how much” and “what” for your own personal needs.
The first step is to become aware of the reasons why you eat what you eat and the reasons why you eat the amounts you eat. When you come to a clear understanding about these two things, you will find it easier to address the consumption of food (and drink,) in a healthy and life supporting way.
Since we are habitual beings, it may take some time to adjust our approach and relationship to food and its consumption, so give your self time to adjust and develop new habits. How long it takes depends on how entrenched you are in your habitually unhealthy habits of eating, and how out of sync you are with the healthy body which is your natural state of well-being. Remember, focus on what you want. The “want I don’t want” stuff is meant to guide us towards what we do want, so that “don’t want” stuff should be used to cause us to redirect our attention more appropriately towards what we do want. When we focus upon what we do want, energy flows towards that naturally resulting in realizing the fulfillment of that expression of attention.
You might consider applying a similar approach towards other aspects of your life as well, that is to say, consider why you do what you do, and consider the amount you do that. When we become clear upon the reasons we have for doing and or not doing things, it is helpful and enables us to make conscious choices which are in line with our desires and well-being. A large part of well-being is the expression of the joy of life, so consider the joy what you do brings into your life experiencing. If “it” engenders joy, it is worth pursuing and enjoying.
To close, I will present the idea that came to me some time ago. Some of you, who’ve read much of my prior writings, may have already seen this:
The joy of life is to be found in each moment lived. Now is the moment.