Food as fuel

I like to imagine food as fuel. Imagine you’re throwing wood or coal into a furnace. You want the fire to keep going at it’s optimal rate…you don’t want to give it too little fuel because then it will die down. But nor do you want to smother it with too much fuel.

It’s not a bad analogy, since cellular respiration (the process of converting chemical energy into cellular energy within our bodies) is technically a combustion reaction, just like burning wood or coal.

But I’m keeping it as a rough analogy, because what I like to imagine is the food I eat being akin to fuel thrown on a fire. Too little and I feel weak and dizzy – the fire dies down. Too much and I feel heavy, full, and bloated – the fire is smothered.

And it’s not just the amount of food, it’s also the type of food. Eating heavily-processed sugars and carbohydrates provide energy but leave me feeling unwell, like throwing accelerants on a fire – the burst of flame from flammable liquids and solids dies down quickly and gives off unpleasant fumes.

So I let my body guide me, and it can have some surprising results. Fruit doesn’t appeal to me as much, and I naturally eat fewer carbohydrates overall.

But occasionally this same intuitive sense of what to eat leads me to fats, oils and salt, or to wholemeal bread, dairy, protein – all in small quantities but presumably fulfilling a need for specific nutrients.

Wholesome is how I would describe these impulses. Certainly different from the needy sensation of craving other kinds of foods, and different even from the feeling of wanting to repeat a wholesome food experience.

3 thoughts on “Food as fuel

  1. I find this whole concept so fascinating and like you mentioned before, it highly “tweakable”. For me, eating once a day does not work because it brings back memories of starvation/intermittent fasting which did not work for me, failed multiple times and only led me to having a disordered “all or nothing” thinking when it came to my meal sizes. Instead, in the morning I take a bite or two of whatever I want, normally its 2-3 grapes, sometimes an egg. I then have a cappucino which I sip on for 2-3 hours(im a slow drinker) and then somewhere around afternoon I will have a sandwiich/burger. Afterwards I normally hit the gym or go for a walk, mostly to release stress and revitalise myself, and then, I evaluate. I evalute: “Do I want anything right now, after this gym session/walk?” Normally its quite late when im finished, 8-9, and the idea of laying in a a bed stuffed does not appeal to me at all, additionally knowing what if feels like to wake up after having a heavy dinner. Normally I resort to drinking soy milk (in Taiwan at the moment) or have some cold tea. I’ve also tried to have some fruit in the evening instead, sometimes it feels like I get too much energy though. But I’ll continue tweaking.

    The reason I looked into eating more frequent but smaller meals a day is because of an article that recommended Highly Sensitive People to NOT fast as a way of diet, and definitely not skip breakfast. It had something to do with the fact that the blood sugar levels affect the mood of those HSP to a much greater degree than a normal persons, and the mood swings can become even more extreme. I know for sure when I was fasting I was much more short tempered and aggressive one minute, just to be “high on life” and have a “we are all connected” type of attitude the next. Understandably, lots of close friends were a bit worried.
    Again, this is not for everyone, but just putting it out there if some one sees themselves as particularly sensitive and empathetic(If you’ve often been told “you’re too sensitive” that’s probably you), and have tried other methods but failed, try to spread it over a day and see what happens. I’m at a place where getting through the day proceeds normally, I’m never starving but always enjoy my food, at the same time being very aware of how it feels to eat it and how my state goes from “maybe should eat something, feeling peckish!” to “I’m even more hungry!”(usually after I have taken a few bites, ironically) to “I´m not hungry anymore”(usually after the great surge of screaming appetite has passed, around 20-30 minutes after I finish eating). The best part is that I don’t really feel that I’m dieting “that hard” even though the intake of the calories is at least a half of what I would eat normally
    Turned out longer that I thought, but thought I would give a small update.

    • Awesome! Thanks for the update Joanna, you are doing really well and it is very encouraging to see how you are continuing to make it your own personal process.
      I love that you are essentially gaining greater knowledge and expertise about your own body in relation to food. I especially love that it’s not feeling “that hard” for you. Well done! 😁

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