All I Want For Christmas Is For Santa To Slap The "Food as Fuel" Analogy in the Face

Amandines de Provence, poster by Leonetto Cappiello via Wiki Commons
The "food as fuel" analogy. 

In distance running circles, its something that we see often--far too often if you ask me.

I mean, I put fuel in my Subaru (actually, I have two Subarus... because I'm a college professor. It's a tenure requirement).

But food--that's something that I eat and prepare for myself, my family, and my friends. Ideally, I want food to be more than just raw material, an extracted product designed to power me through my day.

Put simply, I am not an automobile--at least not until the robots take over and make me one. For now, anyway, I am a human. And, after consulting Dr. Google, I have discovered that other humans--ones who are actually qualified to talk about this issue--are equally critical of framing food as fuel.

Take, for example, this expert takedown of the analogy wherein the author summarizes the complexities of food science before leveling a profound conclusion:

I'm trained as a physiologist and biochemist. So I often look at food through a science lens. But that's not my only perspective. It can't be. 
Because I also coach clients, it's essential to recognize that sharing food is a fundamental human act. Breaking bread (or whatever other food is on the table) is part of our history. Our culture. Our legacy as humans. 
To think of food as "fuel" completely ignores this. And robs us of a meaningful way to connect with our families, our friends, and our communities.


Food is a lot of things. It's joyful; it's necessary; and it gives an opportunity to connect with others, to share what makes us unique and different.

To reduce food to "fuel" is to make eating into little more than a transaction, or worse yet, a contest between the eater and an opposing army of calories.


For Christmas this year, I'm asking Santa to punch the "food as fuel" analogy in the face--because that's Santa's thing.

In its place, I propose thinking of food as a "fundamental human act." Not the stuff of catchy headlines, I suppose. But it doesn't conjure images of me standing at a gas pump, nor does it depict humanity as a mechanical function. So I'd say it's a step in the right direction.

Happy holidays, friends. And eat well.