There have been times in my past when I turned to food to comfort me and help me go through failures, rejections and other difficult times, when I used it as a source of pleasure and an indispensable part of satisfying entertainment. But in the past few months, as I lost close to 20 pounds, I’ve stopped viewing food as a reward or as a major source of joy in my everyday life.
I still remember one of the most impactful words on food that I read a few years back on the Minimalists blog — “Food is not entertainment”, and have come across variations of this statement elsewhere. But I truly internalized this statement this year and it drastically changed my outlook towards the foods that I eat.
It turns out that when we build constraints around our eating habits, we become more creative with regard to what we eat and more conscious about their role and importance in our life.
Unfortunately, a lot of us have fallen into the trap of bad eating habits. We make poor choices in order to feel better in the present moment, but we easily forget the toll they can take on our body as they compound over time. Food is fuel for our body, it’s as simple as that.
This doesn’t mean I don’t seek pleasure from my food. I have assigned Saturday as the cheat day for myself where I allow myself to consume dairy products, chocolates, ice-cream, and other desserts. I’ve massively cut down my junk food intake and eating out, but if I want to, I usually go for it on that day. In addition, I allow myself to be a little flexible when I share meals with my loved ones when dining out. But these are just a few special occasions, where good food (of course, when had in moderation) adds to the overall experience and its enjoyment.
However, I no longer see food as a reward, as a source of comfort and entertainment. It took me a great deal of self-control and discipline to get to this stage, and now I am okay with choosing delayed gratification over short-term pleasures.
I have conditioned myself to eat less and eat right, to pursue excellence even in my dietary habits, and to choose quality over quantity as much as I can. And I know I’ll have to always be vigilant that I don’t slip back to my old patterns as life goes on.
It’s easy to get enticed with food, especially with all the brilliant marketing around, but we must keep a check on our diet. We need to be conscious and deliberate with our food choices. We can seek pleasure from food (without feeling guilty about it), but on our own terms and not get overly dependent on it.
Let’s honor our body and provide it with the best fuel we can. Think of it as an investment that’ll pay dividends your entire life. As the popular quote often attributed to the Greek physician Hippocrates goes, “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.” We are what we eat, after all.
It’s best to treat our body as a temple and be a constant gatekeeper of what we allow inside through our pie hole. When we eat high-quality meals in moderation, not only do they nourish us and keep us healthy and free of diseases, but they also make us feel great. And who says we can’t enjoy healthy meals?
I have started looking at food from a different lens, and I hope you do too soon.
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