Have you ever paused to consider why we eat? Seriously. Why do we consume food? This is a very basic question that deserves a basic answer. Food is fuel for our bodies to survive. We eat out of the requirement to be nourished. But if you observe the seemingly “normal” eating habits most of us exhibit, it unfortunately does not align with the very foundational purpose behind our consumption. Many people treat eating as an indulgent, pleasure-filled activity. Can you relate to this? Of course! We all do this very commonly….dinner dates, birthday parties, religious celebrations, etc. Food draws people together. It is an integral part of family gatherings. All of that being said, taking the very foundation of our consumption for granted (remember the “food is fuel” philosophy), the widespread majority of our food decisions are mistakenly rooted in taste. Imagine that.
Ponder this for a moment….when you go to the zoo and see a monkey eating a banana, what is going on in it’s head? Do you think the monkey looks at the banana as a delicacy? I doubt it. My dog won’t eat the banana. Why the monkey then? They are eating it because it is what they are supposed to eat. The proof is that they have been eating bananas for the past several million years. So, you may be thinking, what are we human beings supposed to eat? Guess what? I don’t have the answer. This is still a work in progress for me and is the very purpose of this blog! There is a lot of credible and well documented research claiming that humans, based on our anatomical make-up, are designed to be herbivores. That’s right…vegetarians. But let’s not dwell on that for now. I’m sure that will be a topic of a future post. For now, what I can definitively say with 100% conviction and certainty is that there are numerous things that we are NOT designed to eat, such as highly-processed products, that are rooted in taste, devoid of nutrition and not well recognized by the human gastrointestinal system. So remember, think about your body as an automobile….if food is fuel, would you want to gas up your car with a bunch of sludge that is barely recognized by your car’s engine and would give it less than ideal performance on the road?? No way!! Don’t get me wrong….some people can get away with regularly eating junk food and appear to be in great shape for years. I could probably survive eating the landscaping in my front yard because my body is smart enough to make some sense of what I am putting in my stomach and derive some sort of nutrition from it. But eventually, this would catch up with me and my health and well-being would suffer dramatically as a result. Seriously though….we are regularly consuming things that, less than 100 years ago, would not even be considered food. And let’s please not make the mistake of associating highly-processed foods (that can sit on a super market shelf for months on end without perishing) with humankind advancement. It’s not real food that’s designed for our bodies. And what about our poor children? Many survive on a steady diet of macaroni and cheese, pizza, hot dogs and chicken nuggets….and seemingly do fine! However, it is important to consider that their brand-new digestive and immune systems are performing at near optimal levels and can easily survive on such foods. Could this perhaps be the equivalent of eating my landscaping? But I digress. Getting back on track and returning to the fundamentals, if you look to food as fuel and your body as the vehicle, why not make the best choices wherever possible? We have so many options to choose from, so it makes perfect sense!
Early into my physical transformation, I was speaking with someone about the building blocks of my newfound diet. When I mentioned that I have been eating more seafood and chicken as sources of protein, this person’s knee-jerk response was that they did not like the taste of seafood or chicken….they preferred the taste of beef and pork. I wasn’t being rude or condescending, but I very carefully said “go with me here….why does everything you eat need to be an indulgence? What about eating food on the basis of nutrition and not taste? What do you think?” There was no response. Since then I have had this conversation with numerous people. I can decidedly say that this theory is not a good fit for closed-minded people or those unmotivated to change. But if you want to enjoy long-term fitness and health, it only makes perfect sense. Eating something based on it having purpose rather than it simply being good tasting makes a lot of sense!