#36: Food Is Our Fuel

Do you REALLY know what you’re putting in your body?

I don’t pretend to be a nutritionist, but I am very interested in the human diet. You can exercise as hard as you can every day of the week, but if you eat a crappy diet, you won’t look as good as you want to look, and you won’t be healthy. Fortunately, usually when you exercise regularly, you tend to eat a little better because you don’t want to screw up the hard work you just put in at the gym. But there always seems to be room for improvement.

Eating virtuously is pretty much impossible, especially if you want to have a social life, or any fun at all. And you’ll recall, too, that I don’t believe in all or nothing behavior. So in terms of eating a very good diet, let’s assume that we’re talking about most of the time.

See if this will click for you the way it clicked for me: Think of food as fuel. Our cars need gas to go, and we would never put anything in the gas tank but gas. So why do we clutter our bodies with so many non-energy-producing edible things? They clog up our plumbing and make us feel sluggish, ill, or heavy. Foods that are not fuel are extraneous. They just get in the way of health.

If you don’t already, take an interest in the nutritional content of the foods you eat. When I put carrots on my daughter’s plate, I’ll say, “Oooh, these are good for your eyes, so you can see better at night!” When you know what amazing things different foods do for your body, you might be more interested in consuming them. If Omega 3s are going to help my brain function, protect me from heart attacks and stroke, and keep my menstrual cramps from being very painful, sign me up—how can I not try to find a way to include them in my diet every day?

Which leads to a thoughtful idea: Maybe you can learn to choose your foods according to the nutrients you need, rather than grabbing whatever foods are closest and then wondering (later) about what might be in them.

It’s empowering to be in control of what goes into your body. It’s empowering to know about the foods you are eating, and what they are doing for you. We are not helpless creatures, with no hope but to suffer saggy bellies for the rest of our lives. You have everything you need to run a smoothly operating system. Just don’t look for it in the middle aisles of the grocery store!