Tell me you haven’t heard or thought this before:
If I’m going to die anyway, then I am going to eat whatever I want and enjoy the time I do have. Why would I give up XYZ and be miserable?
That, my friends, is called ‘flawed logic’. It’s one of the most common responses out there for eating healthy (along with “I don’t have the time,” “it’s too expensive,” and “I don’t have the willpower.”). Why is it flawed logic? Simple, it ultimately presumes that the only enjoyment in life comes from food. So, if you give up your most loved foods, then your life will be miserable.
How would your significant other feel about that? Your siblings? Kids? Parents? Friends? Pets?
I don’t blame those who say things like this. It’s what our society programs us to think – food is not fuel to us, it’s a source of enjoyment and pleasure. It tastes amazing and makes us feel good. We run (or maybe waddle) to it when we’re sad or upset, just like the Golden Girls with their late night cheesecake sessions. So it’s no wonder as a society we say things like this.
In reality is that food is ultimately just a fuel. Also, healthy eating can actually be tasty. And it can be done economically, both in terms of cost and time.
But the real reality is that our lives and the enjoyment we experience within them aren’t just about food. We take joy from so many other things. Time with loved ones, great movies/shows/games/music/etc, vacations, our jobs (seriously, some people take real enjoyment from their work), time with our pets – and the list goes on.
Why do we think that giving up on some foods we like that literally are killing us somehow wipes out all enjoyment from our lives?
This question came to me after watching a great documentary called Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead by an Aussie named Joe Cross. It follows him over 60 days as he goes on a fresh juice-only diet, and educates you about what our food choices are doing to us, and what healthy living can do instead. It’s a fantastic movie (and book), so I highly encourage you to watch it. It’s free for Amazon Prime members, and available on DVD and streaming from most services out there (Amazon, Netflix, etc), and there’s also a book version (on Kindle, too). He suffers from an autoimmune disease that has him on several medications (including strong doses of steroids), and yet he’s still suffering (and overweight and feeling miserable). He transforms himself, is able to come off his meds, and is happier and healthier. He enjoys his life in a way he didn’t before. And he helps another man along the way with the same ailment and even worse health (who then intern helps others, too).
What Joe learns and teaches is that we need to look for all the other sources of joy in our lives beyond food, raise the value those have in our minds, and then make healthier choices to enhance our ability to take in those sources of enjoyment. What we find along the way is that we had a false notion of what our real happiness comes from or, more accurately, just how happy we thought we were.
Whether you want to be as extreme as Joe (and you can’t help but feel like you want to be), the message is so clear and valid. Live healthier, get to a place of true enjoyment, and enlighten.your.body.