Why can loving food too much be unhealthy?

Laura Katleman-Prue
Nutrition & Dietetics
The truth about loving food is that at a certain point it stops loving you back. Actually even that isn’t true. Food can’t love you back. Food is just food. It’s fuel that gives the body energy to go about its business. All of the functions, working, playing, thinking, and talking as well those functions that you don’t perform consciously, like breathing and causing your heart to beat, the jobs run by the autonomic nervous system, all of these require food.

But in spite of its primary function as fuel, food is not repulsive medicine that you have to hold your nose to murder down, either. The fact that food, even healthy food tastes good and is pleasurable to eat is an undeniable part of the eating equation.

Yet with so many pleasures available, why have so many of us become fixated on and addicted to food?

I wager that most would say that food captures our hearts and imaginations because it looks, smells, and tastes so good. It appeals to three of our five senses. From the moment that we lift our forks from our plate into our mouths, there is no denying that it’s the pleasure it gives us. Or is there? Are we totally sure
about this pleasure assumption?

Ask any of us who have been overly involved with food, who have spent countless waking hours thinking and dreaming about, salivating over, and anticipating our next meal, and without hesitation we would swear that food is our favorite thing in the universe. Or so we think..

If you are nodding away at my hypothetical assumption like an enthusiastic bobble toy, then answer this question: When was the last time you just ate while you were eating?

When was the last time you ate without watching television, listening to the radio, reading, driving, or having a conversation? If you can’t remember the last time you just ate, how does the idea sound to you? Isn’t the prospect of eating your favorite food all consuming? (Please excuse the pun!) Imagine eating your favorite food all by yourself with no other distractions commanding your attention. Does this sound appealing? If not, why not?

If food were truly the love of your life, why would you need to couple eating with other activities? Why isn’t this incredibly pleasurable, romanticized experience enough? Hmm. Maybe, just maybe, your idea of eating doesn’t quite match up to the truth about it. And if that’s so, perhaps you haven’t been seeing the whole truth of food.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.