The goal of this series is about as simple as the title makes it out to be, which is to inform individuals of the importance of eating well. Moreover, it actually attempts to illuminate the point of that new paradigm, and to demonstrate the value of a healthy lifestyle and good dietary choices. It includes the principle that health is king, for without it you may be left with nothing. As simple as it may sound, there is yet more to the story than that. Before jumping into the “Eat to Live” philosophy, an explanation of the polar opposite, “Live to Eat,” is in order.

So what does “living to eat” actually mean? Does it mean that food is the number one priority in life? No. Is it when a person loves food more than anything? Nope. Is it that the reason for a person’s existence is to consume food? NO. “Living to eat,” to put it simply, is a mindset. Yes, it is the sort of mindset where a person eats what they please, and does not care to change one’s eating habits, regardless of how detrimental or unhealthy they may be. It does not mean that a person is lazy, weak, or lacking in willpower. It only means that they don’t want to change, because they are happy enough eating what they please. Quite often they are unaware of the facts of the alternative choices (and/or the facts about what they do eat).

Yes, the “live to eat” mindset can have many unintended consequences and problems. Perhaps one of the biggest is chronic disease (heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis among others). It’s a pretty big deal too, since 7 out of 10 deaths in the United States are due to chronic disease (according to the CDC). Nearly all chronic disease is caused by one (or more) of four different risk behaviors: Lack of exercise, excessive alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and poor nutrition. Well, if you get out enough, don’t smoke, and limit your drinking, you are just about there. Sadly, that’s usually where the buck stops, since almost half of American adults have had one or more chronic illnesses, and poor nutrition is the overlapping culprit in many cases.

To quote one astute observer: “The very thought that the diet could have such a profound, powerful effect on the human body, it simply boggles the mind.” Sure, most of us can relate that to the phrase “you are what you eat,” but forming a causal relationship between the foods we eat and the sicknesses we get might be pushing the envelope. It’s even more astonishing when we learn of reports claiming that nearly 75% of health care costs are tied to the top 5 chronic diseases. That’s almost the same as attributing blame of the US health care crisis on the poor diets of Americans! Now don’t get started on some food conspiracy, ya’ hear, we aren’t here to spread blame, rather cheer. And the truth is this: chronic diseases, the most common and costly of all medical treatments, are also some of the most preventable. Additionally, heaping amounts of evidence (also known by many as proof) suggest that many of these illnesses are also reversible with the proper diet. Food can also be the solution; it just depends on the mindset.

The meaning of that phrase “you are what you eat” is certainly more evident when you consider the facts. That tends to happen when the truth is explored. So then, consider this: If the impact of one’s diet can have both positive and negative effects on one’s health, wouldn’t it also be logical that the validity of an excuse for one’s health be considered rational, regardless of the status of one’s actual health? Athletes, nutritionists, bodybuilders, doctors, and others will be the first to tell you that diet plays a role in good health. Not as frequently do we hear from those with chronic illnesses suggesting that their diet has an impact on their health. And why would they? Even if one was aware of the fact (as many are not) that their diet is a huge contributing factor to their predicament, they would still find it difficult to openly address. Human psychology of the self explains it pretty well: we identify ourselves with positive things, and a poor diet and lifestyle does not meet the standard. There are elements of the self that inherently try to prevent a negative identification of one self. Fortunately, learning the truth is the best way to overcome that, as well as any obstacle that may stand in the way of your health. The bottom line: food is the most powerful tool for your health, period.