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.