Do you eat to live or love to eat?

In this day and age food has become more to us than just nourishment for our bodies.

Food has become quite the passion for some of us.

Food is force-fed (pun intended) to us by advertisements on tv, billboards, radio, and the internet. The food industry spends enormous amounts of money trying to get us to buy and eat more food.

People use food in many different ways.

Some people use (and abuse) food for comfort, passion, stress relief, rewards, gifts, and as part of a social activity — just to name a few. There is nothing wrong with being passionate about food. The key, though, is keeping food in balance.

When we eat food as a passion it becomes more than just fuel for our bodies.

Eating for passion — what I call living to eat — instead of eating for hunger, triggers feelings of reward in the brain. This type of eating is referred to as Hedonic hunger or the desire to eat for pleasure.

The reward signals prompt you to overeat even when you feel full and your body has taken in the required daily amount of nutrients needed. This type of activity can result in conditions such as obesity and eating disorders.

Some people view food as a friend, a treat, or a reward rather than needed fuel for the body to function. Food can take on a glorified position in your life. The importance of food is blown out of proportion compared to what it’s actually meant for. Some people see their relationship with food as the key to happiness.

They place too much importance and emphasis on food. This is where balance comes into play. Food can be an important part of your life to a certain extent. You don’t have to treat the act of eating as just a task to live. It’s okay to enjoy food as a social activity, treat, or reward as long as it is done in moderation and in a healthy manner.

The pleasure of eating is short-lived.

As soon as you put the food in your mouth, chew, and swallow, the experience is over. At that point, the brain takes over and the reward sensations kick in. The key is to enjoy those feelings of reward in moderation and not overindulge. One term that comes to mind when I think of moderation and balance is gluttony. Gluttony means to over-indulge or to over-consume food and/or drink.

If you’re of a certain age you likely remember the old Lay’s potato chip commercial that said, “You can’t eat just one.” The idea was that the chips were so good you could never stop at just one. And for many folks who really love chips (like I do) even a whole bag often was not enough.

Chips are just one thing we tend to overindulge in eating.

If we overindulge, no matter the type of food, we start to think of food as exciting and causing pleasurable sensations. This makes food seem fun and special. And the more we eat the more we want.

This behavior can leave us in an emotional state which is the point where we understand what is occurring and we have a choice to make: use restraint to moderate our intake of food or we overindulge and become at risk for both emotional and health problems.

If food passion does become a problem, we have to realize how overblown our thinking about food has become.

Glorifying food is a belief that it can help us be happy. This is not true. If we take a hard look at our beliefs about food and discover the truth, we realize that we do not need to get pleasure from food.

We need food for nourishment. We are better off if we obtain passion from life and include food within our life’s passions.