Eat To Live Or Live To Eat?
Back when I started KERF in 2007, I would have labeled myself as someone who “lives to eat.” The percentage of time that I thought about food was high. My brain was often drifting to thoughts like: What should I have for a snack? What can I do to prep for dinner? What would be a good recipe for the goat cheese in the fridge? I would never have dreamed of skipping a meal and rolled my eyes when people said “I forgot to eat!” (How naive of 24-year-old me.) In general, I’d say my enthusiasm for food was high. That’s what would have made me declare “I live to eat!”
How I shifted towards eat to live
I used to have a lot more time
My life today is very different than it was in 2007. I was young, I had no kids, I had just finished a year of weight loss, I had learned to cook for myself, and I was enmeshed in learning about nutrition. While I was working in PR, I was bored most of the time. Planning meals helped keep me entertained. Once I changed my career path to go back to nutrition school, I was taking courses about eating habits and food science. It’s no wonder food was on my mind!
Thinking about kids > Thinking about food
At age 37 (!) with two kids underfoot, I have absolutely forgotten to eat. Sometimes I do think that I simply “eat to live” to get out the door or be able to move on to the next activity. The biggest shift has been the amount of time my brain is available to even think about my own meals. Having one and then two kids dramatically reduced that time. It also dramatically increased the frequency of times I prepare mini meals and clean the kitchen, so the last thing I want to do when I do have some time to myself is make another mess!
My relationship with food has changed too
My relationship with food has also changed for the better over the years. I went from knowing very little about healthy eating in college to becoming an expert. My mind has settled somewhere in the middle where healthy eating has become habitual and something I enjoy for the way it makes me feel but don’t obsess about.
I still enjoy food, the process of eating, restaurants, cooking (when I have time to myself!), and creating recipes when I am doing it. But as a ratio to the rest of my life, the percentage of time I spend thinking about my next meal is dramatically smaller. I think this is a good thing.
Having the choice to live to eat
Choice is a privilege. There are many people in this world whose life circumstances mean they are forced to eat to live. They would love to have an abundance of resources, time, and options. Having the time to plan your meals, cook, shop, or go out to eat is a gift. I think it all boils down to priorities and passions: Do you live to eat? Live to run? To knit? To travel? Where do you choose to spend your free time?
The middle is a good spot to be
Nothing in life is black and white, and you don’t have to necessarily check one box or the other. Everything is a spectrum. Huff Post calls it Soulful Eating. But I do think the middle is a good spot to be. You don’t want to obsess about food and you want your life to be filled with happy and purposeful things in addition to food. You also want to eat mindfully and healthfully and don’t want to shove food in simply for the sake of keeping your heart beating.