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Eating to Live, or Living to Eat?

Are you eating to live, or living to eat? You've probably heard this question before, but have you ever given it thought?

Let's check it out.

Eat to Live

This phrase implies that every food decision is one made purely based on being physical fuel for our body. The "perfect" eating plan, this implies one would never deviate from their macros, calories, or whatever nutrition plan they're following, because they simply eat to get the job done. There is no consideration for pleasure from eating choices, cultural tradition, or connection (ex. sharing a dessert with a loved one).

On the flip side...

Live to Eat

This implies that an individual's entire life revolves around food. They wake up and immediately start breakfast. After breakfast is a mid-morning snack. Then they call their bestie to see about going out for lunch. You get the picture. They don't care about nutritional quality of foods, they just care about eating.

There's a problem with this way of thinking.

Like MOST phrases or lines of thought that come from diet culture, the phrase "Eat to live or live to eat" implies that we MUST pick an extreme.

If you aren't choosing foods based on fuel alone, you MUST be out of control, gorging yourself on food.

In reality, a healthy eating pattern has food playing many roles:

Physical fuel




Connection with others

Emotional comfort

and more.

Depending on where you are and what you're doing, the emphasis of each role might change.

For example, if you're at a family reunion, culture/tradition will likely be the largest player determining your food choice.

Whereas if you're about to head out for a tough workout, physical fuel will probably be the only thing on your mind.

If you're eating lunch at the office, satisfaction, physical fuel, AND taste may be important priorities (enter Balanced Meal Prep!)

Point is: you can enjoy and embrace ALL the roles food plays while living a healthy lifestyle.

In fact, I'd argue that living a healthy lifestyle IS enjoying and embracing all the roles food plays.

However, it may be difficult to learn the balance if you have always lived in either extreme. If that's the case, nutrition coaching may help you achieve that balance!


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