Food is Fuel
For most of my life, food was a distraction, an experience, or an escape.
Food is a distraction when pausing to eat becomes annoying. When I wish I could be studying or playing video games instead. When I hate being interrupted by mealtimes. When I feel that food is getting in the way of something else. Usually, this means that I order off Doordash so I don't have to make the food myself. Not healthy (or cheap).
Food is an escape when I use taste to cope with my emotions. Feeling bad after a poor midterm grade? Had a rough day at work? Feeling guilty that I’m staying up late, yet again? I order that fat juicy Domino's pan pizza with mushrooms and red bell peppers at 3 in the morning. Oh yeah, eat it up. That's gonna feel so much better than whatever bad experience I just had... until I finish the meal and it begins settling into my stomach.
Food is an experience when taste is the primary goal. Trying out every restaurant in my neighborhood. Paying that extra $50 to get the best item on the menu.
While each of these mindsets have their strengths and weaknesses, I've discovered a fourth mindset that has transformed my health and fitness journey - food is fuel.
Food is fuel means that everything I eat is reflected in my mind and body. My skin breaks out when I eat oily, dirty foods from restaurants. My energy levels crater when I eat pasta for lunch. My stomach aches when I eat a greasy burrito. I'm more moody and emotional when I've eaten pizza three nights in a row. On the other hand, when I eat high-fat, high-protein breakfasts in the morning, my energy levels go through the roof. I don't get hungry every two hours. My mind is clearer, my workouts feel better, and I have a more positive relationship with my body. The fuel that I'm putting into my body determines how I can use my body. And I want to use my body to do amazing, epic things.
The most unexpected effect of viewing food in this way is that after a few days, healthy food starts tasting better than unhealthy food (a topic for another post), which makes sticking to a "diet" fairly easy with the right setup:
Have a basic ability to cook in the kitchen. (I did not have this until the pandemic started) Highly recommended for beginners: The Four Hour Chef.
Always have the ingredients for the same healthy, simple recipes in your fridge (again, The Four Hour Chef is an amazing starting point) Go to the same grocery store every week so that you're not spending hours looking for your ingredients.
Rotate 4-5 healthy recipes that taste good to you and vary them slightly over the course of the week by experimenting with different spices.
Finally, you'll never be Gordon Ramsay - treat yourself to a nice meal at least once a week (food as experience) so that you never build resentment towards the healthier foods throughout the week.