A Food’s Purpose
By Adam Moore
In the fitness industry, it’s common to shame ourselves into eating healthy or try to outwork poor food choices. I think it’s unhealthy to tie your food to feelings of shame or insecurity. Food and the nutrition choices we make have the power to enact amazing results and changes in our physique, mood, hormones, and health. Hopefully those changes are positive, but of course, we humans are often our own worst enemy. To get the most out of our food, we need to ensure it has a purpose.
Food and meal choices can have any number of purposes, though gym culture tends to steer people into the limited domains of either supporting muscle growth of enabling fat loss. But there are countless reasons to eat the food you’ve chosen: a flavor you want to savor, a dish that reminds you of your mother’s cooking, a meal that gets your whole family to sit down without their phones for an hour, a food high in antioxidants to relieve inflammation, and on and on and on. Eating mindfully, regardless of the purpose, is typically a great way to enjoy the food you’re eating and allow your body to digest it well and absorb all those nutrients and benefits that come with your meal.
In my life right now I focus my food choices on having enough protein to promote muscle growth and enough carbohydrates to fuel my workouts. I also want my food to sustain my physical health, so 95% of my meals are made at home and completely under my control. That being said, for breakfast today I had a meal called “Hot Tots” that consisted of tater tots smothered in cheese, peppers, crumbled bacon and poached eggs. Plus I had a Bloody Mary. For dinner tonight I had a double cheeseburger, fries and a vanilla milkshake with Oreo crumbles in it. And I don’t feel guilty at all! What purpose did this food have and why don’t I feel guilty about the choices I made?
Today was Father’s day, and I was looking forward to having some fun with Remy, my son. Every day of the week, every week of the year I cook breakfast at home. My breakfast, Remy’s breakfast and, on the weekend, Andrea’s (my wife) breakfast. Breakfast today was an opportunity to do something different, to have something other than eggs and turkey sausage with broccoli slaw and sweet potatoes. It was a chance for us both to relax and have someone else serve us. That “Hot Tots” meal and a Bloody Mary was a great change for me but also a great time to bond with Remy as the two of us had a table to ourselves with lots of food to share and crayons to draw with and generally make happy memories.
In addition to it being Father’s Day, Remy and I haven’t seen Andrea in four days as she’s been at a conference. I wanted to surprise her by taking her someplace we could all just relax and feel like a family after picking her up from the airport, so I took her straight over to Five Guys. We both enjoyed a delicious burger and a milkshake, a happy treat for each of us that was also fun to share with Remy. It was a great opportunity to just sit down, share stories from our days spent apart, and just relax in a casual environment without having to worry about making dinner, doing dishes, or all the little things we do the other 364 days of the year.
I wasn’t thinking about muscle gain and fat loss during my meals today. I wasn’t thinking about anything other than the moment I was in and the people I was sharing it with, and that WAS the purpose of my meals today, that bonding with my son and fellowship with my family. I could allow myself to feel shame. I could use those meals to guilt myself into an extra workout tomorrow. Would that make me any healthier? Would that make me any happier? Feeling guilt or shame would only lead me to feel stressed, to lying awake at night, to producing cortisol instead of healthy hormones that should come with a good night’s sleep. Instead of that, I’m happy for the time spent with my wife and son, and I know that it was two meals out of the roughly 1,800 I’ll eat this year. I hope that when you have a meal that may not have a “gym purpose” you allow it to still be purposeful for you so that it either nourishes your body or your soul.