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Living to Eat or Eating to Live? — an article on the Smart Living Network
January 2, 2013 at 1:00 PMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Living to Eat or Eating to Live?


With the holidays just over, I sit wallowing in gluttonous regret. The time spent with family and the revisiting of tradition were perfect. The food that passed through my system, however, was obscene, as I caved to temptation. It was a few minutes of euphoria followed by bloated fatigue and regret, not to mention the weight gain that is sure to come. But, let's face it, this type of indulgence is part of our culture. Gatherings and holidays oscillate around food. This blog will examine this relationship and offer strategies to maintain health despite it.


In early times, holidays and special times meant a feast. Eating during regular periods was generally quite spartan.  But these feasting celebrations were the occasions when the store of sugar was used, and an animal was slaughtered so that meat could be served. These things were real treats. 

Present times offer plenty to eat each and every day. Meats and desserts are served frequently throughout the year. We have what used to be referred to as "feasts" all the time, even daily in some cases. For instance, a typical morning meeting at work may be adorned with doughnuts; sometimes we don't even need an excuse to grab dessert after a meal; and sugary soft drinks may be a daily "tradition" in some households.

The Paradox

Somewhere along the line, we went from eating to live to living to eat. That rich food which was originally meant to enhance happy times became the vehicle to yield these happy times. We developed a need for that quick euphoria experienced with the consumption of rich foods, and our bodies became quite tolerant to this mistreatment as our waistlines expanded.

Breaking the Cycle

Habits are hard to break, especially when there is a positive reward system in place. Most experts agree that it takes about two weeks of resolve-driven change to mentally and physically break the cycle and this seems especially true with proper diet. After this refractory period, a "slip up" will ultimately yield dysphoria (a sick feeling) when the limit is pushed with rich, unhealthy food. With exercise, the benefits of weight loss and increased energy can help to firm up resolve for change.

As we finish off the year and look to bring change in our lives, I encourage you to examine your relationship with food.

Eat to live! Live well, and Happy New Year!

More from Health Coach Jeffrey VanWingen M.D. Others Are Reading


  • Positive reward system doesn't even begin to describe it for me. Coming from a background of abuse and being denied food as engrained a sense of "food=care" into me that I still struggle with to this day.

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