Food. Pleasure or fuel?

Food. Pleasure or fuel?

Food, glorious food! Thankfully the problems of Dickensian orphans are far removed from most of us. We have access to all the food we want, and obtaining it needs only a trip to the shops or a few clicks of the mouse.

We are designed to find food pleasurable and seek out high energy foods to encourage us to survive. This works perfectly with an active lifestyle and limited access to food, but modern life can disturb the balance.  The results? Obesity, poor nutrition, disordered eating or worse.

It's important to understand what your body actually needs - and why - to develop a balanced, healthy attitude to food.


We all need food, and we all need the right food in the right portions. When it comes to fuelling ourselves, the nutritional requirements for a healthy body are fairly straightforward.

If food is just fuel, eating becomes a chore. Think what happens when you have a cold and can’t taste properly – your appetite falls away. Alternatively, if the pleasures of food get out of control, our waistlines and health will suffer.


Food should be part of life, not the reason for living. Red flags include:

  • Endless yo-yo dieting: bad for your body, and also very depressing due to repeated perceived failures.
  • Fad diets and competitive dieting; there’s no magic way to lose weight and it isn’t a competition.
  • Childhood traumas: having to clear a plate or feeling guilty about enjoying food can be hard attitudes to shed.
  •  ‘Orthorexia’: an obsession with eating ‘healthy’ food which takes over to the detriment of reason. No food is unhealthy in itself!


The best relationship with food is not to worry about it!

Try these three mantras:

  • Enjoyable nutritious food is part of your day – but not the object of your existence.
  • Forget ‘good’ or ‘bad’ food. Think about variety and moderation.
  • Give your food the attention it deserves. Put the screen down and enjoy a meal with friends or family in pleasant surroundings.

Food is for both nutrition and pleasure, so savour it. Bon appetit!


The Author

Jessica Ambrose

Jessica is a fitness writer who loves long distance running, yoga, strength training and healthy eating.


Emma C.
2 June 2016

Emma C.

I'm so glad I've finally reached a point in my life where I have a sensible attitude towards food. As a teenager I yo yo dieted, I have tried endless fad diets, yet now I am a stable healthy weight through just eating healthy, wholesome food, with regular chocolate thrown in without guilt!

Sasha B.
31 May 2016

Sasha B.

My motto is 80% healthy, 20% doesn't matter so much. I do stick to this, mainly in terms of unprocessed and processed. For some people that's still too high a percentage of processed food, but I am not just talking about junk, but also processed food such as bread and pasta.

Mike D.
31 May 2016

Mike D.

I am interested in the 'Orthorexia' obsession. I believe it's an anxiety which we have created with all the knowledge we now have about food. We micro-analyse it too much, it's too sciency, and we forgot it's the overall picture that matters.

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