We have a strange relationship with food. In this modern age, food is not just fuel for the body; it’s become so much more. It’s pleasure (enjoy the delicious flavors). It’s consolation (have this ice cream while you cry). It’s reward (you get this treat for working hard). It’s celebration (birthdays, holidays). It’s art (gourmet / creative dishes, upscale restaurants). It’s social (friends, coworkers, families eating together)
With all these different things that food has become, we must also not forget what food, at its essence, is: fuel in the form of nutrients for the body to function. And at some point, you can “overdo” it and eat more food than your body needs. What your body doesn’t need, it stores as fat. Always thinking of food in pleasure, consolation, or social terms can quickly lead to one becoming fat.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy food, and I’m not telling people to go to the extreme of not considering taste and also considering the nutritional aspects of food. Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures and I wouldn’t wish anyone the misery that is eating broccoli, chicken breast, and brown rice for every meal.
But there is another extreme as well: the mindset that forgets food, essentially, is fuel, and is willing to eat just because you want to be social or celebrate or you feel lonely.
The Dream Body mindset advocates a healthier, balanced view towards food. Listen to your body. If your body is craving something sweet, then indulge it, but not too much. If your body is craving steak, then indulge. If it’s your friend’s birthday, then have a slice of cake if you wish, but don’t have two or three. If your coworker invites you out for drinks, enjoy them in moderation.
And at all times, don’t oversatiate yourself. There are other ways to celebrate, to experience pleasure, to be social.
That gets me to the second part of this lesson. Now that we understand food is fuel, we must learn WHAT goes into our food. I’m sure you’d rather not know what is the nutritional value of that Bloomin’ Onion appetizer at Outback, but if you did know, you could eat maybe ¼ of it instead of ½, and probably save yourself several hundred calories.
The Dream Body Mindset involves awareness of what you are putting into your body. Specifically, we must know how many calories we are eating, and how many of those calories consist of fat, protein, or carbs.
This way, at the end of the day, we can see whether we are making progress towards our fitness goals via our diet, or not. To remain ignorant of what goes into our diet is to set ourselves up for failure. What if we are eating 3000 calories when we thought we were eating 2000? You can be sure you won’t be shedding any fat that way.
What if you think you’re getting 150g of protein a day when your diet is in fact only 50g protein? You can bet we aren’t going to build muscle as efficiently or effectively.
The lesson is clear: food is fuel, and know thy food.