Thursday, November 13, 2014

I Don't Want to Eat to Live

Today's NaBloPoMo writing prompt was based on the concept of the micromort: a unit of risk measuring a one-in-a-million probability of death. Though more readily applied to instant death scenarios (e.g., skydiving), but can also be used to consider the risks that reduce your life expectancy.

Obviously I've never been, and still am not, living the perfect lifestyle (definitely have a tendency towards laziness and instant gratification that interferes with that!). Over the years, I have, however, increased my desire to develop healthier habits, and have made strides towards accomplishing that. A relaxing day now includes an easy run, not sitting around reading; an enjoyable meal includes a salad in addition to a donut. 

As much I enjoy a bowl of ice cream, or say that my last meal would be french bread and string cheese, I know that it's a problem to "live to eat". Of course there's more to live than just the tangible pleasures of food, and you won't live very long to enjoy those foods if that's really all you focused on.

However, I have people in my life who go to the other extreme. My husband is a fan of Joel Fuhrman, author of Eat to Live*. That book recommends a lifestyle that's exactly what it sounds like: eat foods that have maximum nutrient density (nutrients per calorie). He's (Dr. Fuhrman, and Abe following his advice) all about eating cuploads of kale on a daily basis.

Now, Abe says he enjoys eating kale. And maybe that's true; maybe it always has been, maybe if you eat it you do learn to love it eventually. But the fact of the matter is that, for me, right now, I don't love eating kale. Though I try to fit it in occasionally, it's a burden, not a joy, for me.

Is it worth substituting kale for ice cream? Micromort analysis would tell me to. Not only would it increase my life expectancy in general, but I am dealing with some chronic conditions that would improved by a substantially better diet. But what's the point of increasing your life expectancy if you don't enjoy the prolonged life? Not that ice cream is the end all and be all of enjoying life, but it's certainly an aspect of it! 

There's more to life than just maximizing physical health; even to the extent that physical health has an impact on mental and emotional health (absolutely a relevant factor in things I have like hypothyroidism, PCOS, and depression!), there are plenty of other factors that also affect mental and emotional health. Being able to enjoy the sensations of rich, pleasurable foods is one of them. Not feeling trapped in a box, not keeping a list of things that I have to do everyday against my desires is another. 

It may be a fine line, but I don't believe that eating to live will truly produce a better life than living to eat. You can never mitigate all the risks in live, and you won't be happy while you're trying to do so. Learn to love the balance.

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