Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Food: Fuel Versus Pleasure

(baked zucchini balls)

A few weeks ago I was writing about something that I had eaten and the notion of how my views regarding food have changed over time occurred to me and I knew I needed to elaborate on how it happened.  In the not so distant past I had a much more hedonistic view of food. What I mean by this was that my food choices about what to eat were driven first by how much I would enjoy it and secondarily by how healthy it was.  I don’t have to tell you that when you eat in that manner it is inevitable that you are going to put on weight and I did.  I was neither happy nor healthy.  However once cancer enters your life you know that something has got to change and we did.

(zucchini and radish pasta with spinach and walnut sauce)

Today my views about food have flipped 180 degrees.  My first thought when eating now is how can I maximize the nutrition in our food?   My second thought is how can I make the food taste as good as possible without harming the nutrition?  By altering my view regarding food I was able to lose weight with little effort.  If someone had told me years ago that the key to being healthy was changing my view of food I would have thought they were crazy.  First it would have seemed impossible to me to alter my perspective. Second I wouldn’t have thought that one simple mental change would have had a big impact.  How wrong I was on both of those issues.

(Mexican-spiced tomato and bean soup with avocado salsa)

How do you start to change your perspective?

That is the $64,000 question isn’t it?  I know the specific answer is different for everyone. But I do know that whatever you use of motivation has to be critically important to you.  For us it was the cancer and being as healthy as possible in order to stand up to the cancer. When you are faced with a life or death situation changing your views on food seems easy.   It could also be that you want to lose weight and improve your health for yourself and your family.  Whatever it is the reason has to be long term in nature so that you stick with it.  Specifically what I mean is losing weight for a high school reunion isn’t going to work because when the reunion is over your motivation is gone.

Once you find your personal motivation the details are much easier.  All of us know which foods are good for us and which ones are harmful.  It comes down to eat more of the healthy stuff which will naturally crowd out the unhealthy foods. If you need more specifics I will be covering those every Thursday in my “transitioning to a healthy vegan diet series”.

I wanted to toss out this idea of eating for fuel versus pleasure to give you something to think about. Ask yourself this, which have you been doing up until now eating for fuel or pleasure? Are there foods that you are convinced “you can’t give up!”  Why are those foods more important to you than your health?  Please give that question a lot of thought because it plays a huge role in your current and future health.  Remember you have everything necessary to improve your health as long as that is what you want.

(potato gnocchi topped with zucchini and tomato sauce - courtesy of Ian)

Happy thoughts:
  1. What a good Tuesday I had!  I got a lot done at home.  *woo hoo*  I had some good nutrition sessions. Love that!  I also found time to make more bean soup in the pressure cooker.  Not bad for a crazy cold and busy Tuesday.
  2. Today I am happy for having a home gym because it was 22 degree this morning with a wind chill of 7.  Darn that is cold.  Needless to say this girl did not go outside for her cardio today.  ;-)
  3. I am also grateful that we didn’t get the predicted overnight snow which would have made Dan’s trip to work in rush hour treacherous.
  4. I have a new tea gadget that I was able to use on Tuesday and I love it.  I will be writing about that at some point because I think every tea drinker should have one.
  5. In addition to being productive today I also was able to write more of this post early which means I wasn’t scrambling at 11:30 to get this up by midnight.  *happy dance*
  6. This weekend a ceramic pan that I had ordered arrived and I had a chance to use it. I was absolutely shocked by how well it worked. There will be a write coming on that too after I have had a chance to put the pan thoroughly thru its paces.
  7. Remember my whining yesterday about the 0.6 pounds that hadn’t gone away after delicious dinner courtesy of Ian? Well apparently all I had to do was talk about it publicly because this morning all that indulgence weight disappeared.  LOL
Signing out:

I hope you had a great Tuesday and that your week is going well.  Tomorrow (Wednesday) is a going to be busy for me. However I am looking forward to writing the next of the series on transitioning to a healthy vegan diet.  For now I need to wrap this up and get some sleep.  Arrivederci!  ;-)


  1. Another great post! I often balk at the idea that food should be treated purely as fuel, but I appreciate and share your take. Like you, I think it's very important to build meals around getting the nutrients you need, but I don't ever believe in eating things you dislike. Food should taste good, and there's no reason that healthy meals can't.

    1. Good morning Brigid,

      Thank you! I am so glad you liked it. I agree with you completely than no one should eat things that they dislike. However sometimes they also need to retrain their palates a little. People who eat a diet similar to most Americans have to relearn what real food tastes like without all that sugar, fat and salt. It can be a bit of a catch-22 if you know where I am going. However most people do learn to enjoy the taste of healthy food if they give it a chance. A couple of days ago I introduced an omni friend to garbanzo beans and hummus and he loved it. Sometimes it really is just a matter of exposure.

      Hope you are having a wonder day,

  2. Awesome post! I'm not surprised though, I always love what you share.
    I used to view food as entertainment, comfort, an escape, pleasure but now I'm walking the line between nutrition and enjoyment. I thoroughly enjoy my meals but I no longer see the point in nutritionally redundant foods (unless I'm trying to hurt myself which is a whole other issue).
    I think people can be very black and white- if it's healthy it must not taste good and not even try it. What a shame! I keep finding new delicious healthy treasures :)

    1. Good morning Claire, :-)

      I think a lot of us have used food for things other than fuel. ;-) Having a chef friend and being so close to Jose Andreas in DC food as entertainment was very big in our lives too.

      Healthy food does have a very granola and cardboard image and that is a shame. However if people like us keeping spreading the word that healthy can be delicious maybe we can make an impact. :-)

      Hope your day is fantastic,


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