Earlier in the week I overheard some people having a conversation that drove me to write this post. One of them said they felt guilty eating because they hadn’t “earned it”. I realised they meant they hadn’t exercised so they didn’t feel as though they had earned their food! This is completely the wrong mindset to have regarding food, and one that can lead you down a very dangerous path, as I have found out. We should not be telling ourselves things like this, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
Food is not something that needs to be earned, especially if you are asking as much of your body as we do as runners. Food is fuel and is essential. We need it to have enough energy to get through the day, we need it to allow our bodies to recover from the strain we put them through, and we need it to be able to run to our full potential. Without enough of it, none of this will be possible.
It is an awful mindset to have to perceive food as something that can only be earned through burning calories. Not only does this lead to an unhealthy relationship with food, but also with training and exercise. If you see running as something to do to burn calories, before long you will begin to resent it. I run because I love it, and I train hard because I want to get faster and stronger, not because I want to burn calories. When this was my mindset I was running the worst I ever have done. I began to resent training because I was doing it in an energy deficient state that meant I struggled from the get go. I hadn’t fuelled myself properly prior to training sessions because, in my eyes, I had not yet earned the food I needed, therefore I wasn’t making any gains from the sessions I was doing. Looking back on it now I can’t help but emphasise the importance of fuelling yourself properly before and after any session, and as importantly, on rest days. The best way to improve your performance, if you aren’t doing this already, is to eat properly and sufficiently. This will lead to a much healthier relationship with training. Additionally, if you see food as a source of enjoyment that you deserve, you will be much more likely to enjoy eating it, rather than if you punish yourself every time you eat without having exercised.
I find it so sad when I overhear people talking about “earning” their food. I find it awful that this mindset is still so prevalent among people in our society. What made it worse was the statement I overheard came from two mothers. Two mothers who may drill the same belief into their children. It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to listen to your body and feed it when it needs food. This is something we need to be telling the younger generations in order to allow them to develop a healthy relationship with food too! Eat when you are hungry or when you know you need to eat, don’t let your judgement be clouded by whether you have ‘earned it’ or not. I am aware some people have different goals of weight loss, but food still doesn’t need to be seen as something to earn. If you are trying to run to your full potential and push your body to the limit daily, being concerned about earning your food should be the last of your concerns. Yes, we may all have thoughts about whether we have eaten too much and not done as much exercise as we usually do, but this needs to be ignored. It is so important to have the strength to override this belief and eat the amount of food your body is asking you for.
It is so important not to see food as something we have to earn. We NEED it. Without sufficient fuel we struggle to function properly in everyday life, let alone when pushing our bodies in training sessions.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!