Do We Eat to Live or Live to Eat?

After reading one of my previous blogs, Cooking: The Journey from Amateur to Almost Pro, a friend, Mr. S had suggested this profound topic โ€” do we eat to live or live to eat? People who eat to live are those, I feel, who live with a lot of restrictions and look at food only as a source of sustenance. On the other end are folks who live to eat, those who need to keep eating to fulfill not just their hunger, but every emotional need. The topic intrigued me and of course I had to do some ‘Googling’ to see what others thought of this topic too. As part of my readings, I came across various interesting perspectives, some that commended eating to live, others that were pro living to eat and some that said we shouldn’t do either.

My favorite, though, were people after my own heart. Those who echoed my views on the topic: we eat to live and live to eat, the two are mutually inclusive. I strongly believe that most of us fall somewhere in the middle. Striking that balance between eating to live and living to eat is a challenge, but I think it can be done if we listen closely to our bodies: it definitely has answers to many of our questions. I do not mean to say that food should be considered medicinal and eaten as one would have medicines: sparingly and disinterestedly. That concept may work for regular practitioners of yoga and enlightened souls. But mere mortals like me survive on the motto of enjoying everything in moderation (if only I could put it into practice when it came to sweet treats and certain Indian snacks).

This is type of pure bliss that food can provide! (Featured: Avinash Surendran)

Sorry for rambling (but that’s what I am supposed to do, right?) but what I meant to say is that though food is required for sustenance, it also definitely stimulates the senses. Right from the aroma of spices to the spluttering of Indian seasonings, everything related to food arouses our senses. I am thinking of the term soul food right about now…food that touches the soul, connects us to our roots and brings back memories. When a morsel of food can do so much to us, we should treat it with respect too.

That’s where the balance I mentioned earlier should come in. In Are you Eating to Live or Living to Eat? There’s a Better Way., I came across a concept called soulful eating, which pretty much encompasses what I just mentioned, about food touching the senses and satiating the soul. The author says, “Soulful Eating engages all of our senses and leaves us feeling satisfied, nourished and having the simple, easy contentment and pleasure that food is meant to bring.”

How do you put this into practice? The first step, I believe, is to spend more time with your food. Whether you cook it yourself or have someone else prepare it for you, a lot of care goes into making the food. The same care, I believe should go into eating it too. Many of us (my husband and I included) are guilty of eating in front of the television. But we are at least aware of what we are putting into our mouths. So if we begin to spend more time with our food, we’ll also get to know our bodies a little better and gradually learn when to stop eating. Once we all learn to do that, I strongly believe that we’ll be savoring each bite that we take, experiencing each texture and ultimately, assimilating all the nutritional benefits of the meal completing the circle of living to eat and eating to live.

In conclusion, if we eat to fill our souls and not our tummies, we can all happily eat to live and live to eat longer!


7 thoughts on “Do We Eat to Live or Live to Eat?

  1. Yes, Aparna, quoting the Buddhist philosopher, Thich Nhat hun, everything we do has to touch the soul, including eating. Look at the rice and see the rich soil with paddy growing, the farmer harvesting it, the manual labour that goes into the processing of it to convert it into packets that reach your supermarket and then you or your mother/wife/husband cooking it with care to reach the perfect texture for your nourishment… will just love the rice you eat and never complain.

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  2. I think i definitely fall in the in-between. I enjoy the eating more than the cooking and it takes a long time to finish what’s on my plate because of that!! But definitely a fan of soulful eating!
    P.S. and i thank God for my appetite๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

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  3. Rightly said that it shall fall in the middle. I was thinking I was not sure about what I am doing sometimes eating to live and otherwise eating as though I am living to eat. But looks like I was only trying to strike a balance. Let’s keep that balance going so we enjoy both worlds and eat soulfully (not sure that’s a real word)!

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