Health with a Purpose

Health with a Purpose

If you visit the health and wellness initiative by Johnson and Johnson, they identify that “health connected with purpose creates the energy and passion that inspires our daily actions” (http://www.wellnessandpreventioninc.com). This statement is quite powerful. In terms of diet, consider that if you don’t enjoy eating healthy, you will eventually stop eating healthy. We spend more than four percent of our lives eating, and many hours dreaming about food, shopping for food and preparing meals. As Emily Dickinson explained, “The mere sense of living is joy enough.” For many, the foods in our diet are a big part of how we experience the mere sense of living. Making changes that have a purpose can help us enjoy this mere sense of living.

The purpose in our life is related to why we diet or why we make changes in our lifestyle to live healthier. In our food-rich society, pleasure is the motivation for much of our eating. Indeed, diets fail in the long term because we prefer foods not allowed by those diets. Eventually you will eat what you like, despite your best intentions. In other words, what makes food pleasurable is also what makes us eat it, even when we don’t set out to do so. An explosion of research in the last twenty years has demonstrated that experience has profound effects on food likes and dislikes. More important, these likes and dislikes have the strongest control over what we eat. We eat what we like based on experience and, unfortunately, most people have little experience with foods that are not part of their typical diet. This makes dieting difficult since preferences for foods are established primarily through learning and experience. Thus, to understand why we eat what we eat, it is important first to get an idea of why we diet. So next time you eat, ask yourself why you eat what you eat—and begin to think about eating purposefully—and ultimately healthier.