Eating versus Eating Well

By Katie, 5:37 am

Today’s post on the key differences between “eating” and “eating well” is brought to you by author Jocelyn Anne. Would you like to be featured on Health for the Whole Self too? Check out my guidelines for guest posting!

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Eating. You’d think it would be, should be, such a simple thing. But oh, how difficult it can be. The analyzing, over-analyzing, the under-analyzing followed up by guilt. One simple meal can turn into a stressful affair in no time. I’ve had my share of moments (or rather days and weeks on end) when eating was too complicated and too stressful. Until finally, I’d had enough. I wanted to eat “normally,” I wanted food to be a simple and enjoyable part of life that I could take part in without any more anxiety.

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And that is the beginning of my transition from just “eating” to “eating well.” When I say eating well I mean eating to sustain and promote health in both body and mind. I want to emphasize that I’m not saying that food is not to be enjoyed. Obviously, food can certainly be enjoyable and should be enjoyable, but the conclusion that I’ve come to is that the problems begin to arise when the enjoyable aspect of eating becomes the central point. My new goal and motivation in eating is to eat well, meaning to eat with the purpose to fuel my body with the energy it needs to survive. And, when I combine that purpose with the goal of improving my mindset and attitude towards food as a whole, the outcome is life-changing.

Food has the capacity to make us feel amazing. It also has the capacity to mess with us physically and emotionally. Whether we feel tired, sluggish and lethargic, or depressed, guilty and frustrated, there’s almost no impact food can’t have. On the other hand, eating well can lift your mood, brighten your spirit, give you energy in abundance to power you through tasks and motivate you try new things and be more adventurous than you typically are. Reasons enough to eat well? I thought so! If you’re tired of being consumed by food, here are a few words of “wisdom” that I keep in mind in my attempts to eat well every day.

Food’s Purpose is First to Fuel (Food First Fuel: FFF)

If you look at food with your number one goal simply being to fuel your body with the nutrition it needs, then everything else becomes much simpler. Rather than trying to determine what has the lowest calorie count or the lowest fat and carb count and instead vowing to choose which food will provide you with lasting energy, the best choices for your body suddenly become much more obvious. Why do you always hear that eating whole grains is important? Because they burn slowly over time and provide you with extended energy in lieu of the short burst of energy and subsequent crash of something like a donut. You’ll have to experiment with what foods do give you the energy you’re seeking. For me it may be whole grains, for you it may be vegetables and protein. We’re all different. Your job is only to take care of your body.

Relish Feeling Good

When you start really taking care of your body and seeking to nourish it and provide it with all the vitamins, minerals, calories, fats, nutrients, etc. that it needs on a daily basis, you will start to feel wonderful. Relish that feeling. Cherish it. Don’t let it pass you by. Finish a meal and take a moment to recognize the satisfaction and joy that comes with eating well. The more you tell your mind this, the more you’ll reinforce good habits and good patterns that will stick with you for a lifetime. A dish of chocolate ice cream may delight for a moment, but a well planned out and thoughtful meal will delight for the entire day.

Encourage Yourself

Eating well is a process. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it can and it will happen if you persevere. You have to listen to your body. Know when it feels good and when it doesn’t. Take notes, journal, do whatever you need to in order to enable yourself to compile patterns that will allow you to re-plan and adjust accordingly. And, most of all, encourage yourself. Push on and seek the day when you will sit down to a delicious, colorful, balanced dinner that will be anxiety free, enjoyable, and ultimately, good for you. Because, after all, that’s what eating well is all about.

How do you differentiate between eating and eating well?

Author Jocelyn Anne is a freelance writer who is dedicated to healthy eating and living. She is currently writing alongside Air-n-Water researching environmentally conscious ways to use a portable air conditioner in the summer months.

9 Responses to “Eating versus Eating Well”

  1. Great points!

    There is definitely a difference and to me it’s about finding a good balance between eating well (and enjoying the foods you eat) and simply eating for pleasure…I still believe you need to eat things just because they taste good.

  2. bubu says:

    I love this! I’ve been trying to do this too, and feel the difference. I just came out of a recent couple of weeks filled with social events and heavier/less healthy fare, in situations where I had little control over the menu or setting. And I just felt out of balance, and not as good inside or out. So getting back to “eating well” for me was not dieting, but just trying to find that balance and sense of well-being I know I get when I choose healthier foods, and eat them in a real “dining” setting.
    Also – if you’re into whole grains, I just got a great new cookbook: Ancient Grains for Modern Meals- not just good recipes, but gorgeous photos and all kinds of interesting histories of various whole grains (all at least 1000 years old)- I’m testing out farro this weekend! The chef is of German and Greek descent, and it plays out in really interesting flavors and recipes.

  3. Sarah says:

    I so appreciated this post that I linked back to it via Twitter. I hope many people read this; I think you’re right on!

  4. Tamara says:

    When I was dieting all the time, I couldn’t tell the difference between eating and eating well. I felt like crap all the time because I was constantly out of “fuel,” so I couldn’t tell the difference between feeling miserable two hours after a 100 calorie pack of chocolate crackers or feeling miserable two hours after a too-small healthy snack. And since calories were the only unit of nutrition I paid attention to, I’d choose stuff that made my blood sugar plunge over things that would give me strength.

    But after I weaned myself off of dieting, it’s really easy to tell what is “eating” and what is “eating well.” “Eating” is munching on a sleeve of Oreos because you’re too lazy to get to the grocery store for fruit, and feeling like a rock for the next couple of days. “Eating well” is noticing that you’re having difficulty concentrating in the afternoon, so you sense out the snack that would make you feel better. That snack will probably be something with vitamins and staying power. If you’re eating well, you’ll feel hungry at meal times, not on the cusp of certain death.

    • Alexis says:

      Great post, Tamara.

      I again am fighting between eating well for a normal person and eating 100% perfect for someone who has a lot of weight to lose. I know exactly how to eat, but every few weeks I get anxious about my weight, and then the restricting and crazy rules take over. So I end up not eating well or eating perfect. I end up eating sleeves of oreos cus now I’m frustrated and overwhelmed.
      My fight is STILL with the diet mentality. I should be juicing kale and swiss chard three times a day and eating boiled eggs and cottage cheese, only. I do, until about 4 o’clock. Then I binge, and try to be perfect the next day with the same results.
      I am guilty of a lack of self-care and am unprepared grocery wise. I run out of food and then just make due with the garbage my mom eats. I’ve taken care of her for over three years and this has been the pattern all along.
      I see what I’m doing. That’s the ridiculous part.

      • Katie says:

        I’ve been there, in terms of seeing what’s going on but feeling powerless to change it. Someone once told me that if it were possible to think my way out of my food issues, I would have done it a long time ago. I think that’s very, very true. We can be super educated about what food feels best in our bodies and yet still struggle to eat that way. For me it was always a matter of working through the emotional stuff that was keeping me from eating well.

  5. Lisa says:

    When I was trying to lose 100 pounds I ate “food.” Basically diet, low calorie foods that were very processed. I wasn’t into cooking at the time and didn’t know how to eat healthily when I made food on my own.

    Once I lost the weight I realized that I needed to eat REAL food and WHOLE foods. I made the switch and have never felt better. I’d much rather eat something healthy than low calorie and processed.

  6. Sarah says:

    Great post! I think listening to my body would be much easier if I could turn my mind off. Food can become stressful (and not because of the scarcity of food like our ancestors had to deal with) but trying figure out what to eat. One of the hardest aspects of intuitive eating for me is trying figure out what my body wants. Half the time I spend so much time trying to figure out that I want that I end up starving and eating everything in sight.

    @Alexis: It’s not ridiculous! It’s s easy to fall into a pattern especially if you have an example set for you. I too battle with eating the healthy “diet” foods during the day followed by a binge at night. I believe it was Geneen Roth who said for every restriction/diet there is an accompanied binge. So the best way to break free from that cycle is to stop dieting which unfortunately is harder than it sounds.

    • Katie says:

      Thanks for this awesome comment, Sarah. I love that you pointed out the battle we often fight between our bodies and our minds. I too have been there, struggling to figure out what my body wants because my mind keeps getting in the way!

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