Why Do We Eat Food? – The Psychology of Eating

Why Do We Eat Food - The Psychology of EatingIt’s been a hectic day. You’ve been running from appointment to appointment, the phone keeps ringing and the work just keeps piling on. Your lunch plans went to crap and you had to just “wing it.” You’re tired and hungry but relief is in sight… you are finally driving home.

Then it dawns on you. You know nothing’s prepared when you get there and you are starving.

What do you do?

If this scenario sound too familiar then you’re not alone. There are a lot of people that put their nutrition on the backburner while other things in life come at them.

eating-on-the-runMany would opt for the easy way out and grab something from a fast food joint. Yup, when you are hungry you are more likely to make improper food choices.

Fast food restaurants can offer a quick fix for your hunger but they can be very unhealthy and are usually highly processed.

Some people would fight through the hunger and cook a healthy quick meal at home. This is a much better option but you need the willpower and discipline to do it.

So who are you? Person A who eats goes for the a quick unhealthy solution, Person B who takes the time to make something healthy or would you be Person C that plans ahead with their food and does not even let themselves get put into this kind of situation.

The answer to that question comes in how you view food and why you eat.

Getting into the Psychology of Eating

food-addictionPeople eat for a number of reasons. Some eat because they are hungry, some have an emotional attachment to eating, and other people just can’t restrain themselves when they see a certain food.

The list of motives behind why people actually eat can go on and on.

All of these reasons usually will fall into two main categories; eating for enjoyment and eating for nourishment.

On one end of the spectrum, there are people that eat whatever they want, whenever they want with no regard for their health. If they get a certain cue, like a commercial on TV, they will start stuffing their face with whatever they can find.

eating-psychologyOn the other end, there are people that eat purely for the nutritional value of food. When they see a big juicy steak, they don’t see the steak, they see 50 grams of protein and 30 grams of fat. When they see ice cream, they see all the sugar and fat.

I think it is extremely rare to find someone who is on either extreme. Most people are somewhere in the middle of this scale although some people will end up leaning a lot more toward one end or the other.

I know that I was near the middle and near each end during different times in my life.

When I was young I was a big fat kid that ate all kinds of crap. I didn’t care how I looked and athletics were very foreign to me.

It’s a good thing I started playing sports or I would still be out of shape and have no idea how to eat right. You would not be reading this if I did not decide to change.

When I was acting and modeling in LA, I was pretty close to eating for pure nutrition sake. This was especially true when I had a photo shoot coming up. I ate pretty clean, but I say pretty clean because I would still party every so often and there was usually some alcohol involved.

(Note: Alcohol is bad for results, but mine were still pretty good. This was because 98% of the time I was eating clean, I had killer workouts and I was still young.)

Where Do You Fall?

Imagine a big line with numbers from 0-100 on it. 100 is eating clean all the time with no regard for taste. 0 is eating only for enjoyment without any other considerations.

What number would you be at right now?

The number you give yourself should align with your goals.

overeatingIf you are someone that wants to be shredded with 5% body fat, then the number better be pretty close to 100 or you need a serious attitude adjustment. Unless you are very strict with your diet, you just won’t get there.

If your goal is to get bigger, stronger or to optimize your athletic performance, you’re gonna need a lot of good food. It should be pretty clean most of the time, but there is a little more room for error. The number should be pretty high but does not need to be perfect.

If you number is moderately high and you are just looking to lose a couple pounds or to maintain where you are, that should be sufficient. You might see some progress but it will be very slow. The more you cheat, the longer it will take to get there.

If you are at this site and you came up with a number below 50… LEAVE RIGHT NOW.

Well, I guess you don’t really need to leave, but you do need to seriously evaluate your actions and their effects.

Remember if you don’t change the cause, than you can’t change the effect.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein

Take Action

salmon-filetIf your eating aligns with your goal, then super-duper. As long as you understand what foods are healthy and how to plan out your foods then you are on your way to whatever fitness goal you have. Just keep working out and getting the recovery you need and you’ll be golden.

If your goal is way more serious than your eating habits then you really need a serious attitude check.

Here are some steps to help you out:

1.) Cut out the crap. This means start eating more food without labels like meats and produce. If you do buy packaged products then start reading their labels. No more of these crappy foods like:


High fructose corn syrup

Artificial Sweeteners (except real Stevia)

Highly processed foods (you’ll never find a chip, cereal or condiment in nature.)

Highly preserved foods (real food is not meant to sit on a shelf for a long time)

Inflammatory oils (like canola and soybean)

(maybe) Gluten-containing foods (like breads and pastas)


2.) Check out the Food Database to see which foods are “healthy” and what you should stay away from. Please note that not all foods on the list will be healthy for every goal or nutrition plan. Some foods like wild-caught salmon, coconut oil and leafy greens are great for any goal.

meal-preperation3.) Make a list of the “healthy” foods that you do like to eat. This can be a real list or a mental list, but understand what is good and what is bad. Many people have misconceptions about what is “healthy” and what is “not healthy.”

4.) Record you foods. When you eat healthy, write it down. If you slip and go off your plan, write it down. If you don’t eat enough, write it down. There are a bunch of apps that can help you do this from your phone. For some people simply writing down what they eat will make them eat better.

5.) Plan ahead. Try to predict any challenges that you may have and think of easy solutions. Cook at a lot when you have time so when you are busy there are healthy leftovers. If you know you will not have access to a lot of food, bring your own with you. Don’t just accept that things are hard, fix them.

6.) Stay focused on your goals. You can be looser with your nutrition when your goals aren’t that serious, but be prepared to crank it up when you get a hard to reach goal.

 Wrapping It Up

That’s it… Simple. Eat the foods that you like and are healthy and stop eating bad foods even if they taste good.

Stop attaching any emotion to eating and don’t let other people apply social pressure on you to get you out of your zone. Get your goals and SMASH IT!

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