Food As Fuel

January 11, 2010 by

If you made a list of New Year’s resolutions this year, or any year for that matter, chances are “eating healthier” or “losing weight” was on your list.  They seem to be perennial favorites.    You might join weight watchers or a gym or try the latest fad diet to help you keep with your goal.  You might spend all kinds of time, money and energy on a goal that by February you are too frustrated to care about.  Most resolutions regarding food and weight loss fail, not from lack of trying, but from lack of the right attitude towards food.

NOTE:  Before I go on, a little disclaimer.  I am not a doctor or nutritionist or any other health professional.  This is just my personal observations from being a high school and college athlete, from coaching high school and college athletes, from years of working closely with trainers and nutritionists, and from years of personal study and experience.  You don’t have to listen to me if you don’t want to!

Our culture has made food out to be entertainment, a mood enhancer, something to shove down our throats to keep our stomachs quiet and a multi-billion dollar business.  Food can be all those things, but at the most basic level, food is fuel.  Our bodies need this fuel to run.  If we give our bodies good quality food, our bodies run efficiently and correctly – as they were designed to do.   On the other hand, give your body junk fuel and see how it runs.  Think about it in terms of your car.  How does it run when it gets a bad tank of gas?  It can be sluggish if it runs at all!  When we think of food as fuel, it can make our eating decisions easier.  Here are some other things to think about when choosing food to eat.

  1. Fresh food is always better than processed. Our bodies run so much better when they don’t have to process all the chemicals and additives that our found in processed food.  They are usually not so good for us and cut down the actual nutrient content of food.  Fresh food is much more nutrient-dense and power packed fuel.
  2. Just because something is homemade doesn’t mean it’s a great food. Most of us just spent the last month eating loads of homemade treats over the holidays.  How did they make you feel?  Probably great at first.  What’s not to like about the taste of homemade cookies?  But, after eating a handful a day for a few days, how do you feel?  How do your clothes fit?  All those refined flours and sugars and butter catches up to you.  I’m not saying you have to quit eating cookies and other treats.  I love treating myself now and then.  I just want you to think about the quality and quantity of what you eat.  Think about the ingredients of the foods you make and eat.  Do they make good fuels or are they just fillers and junk?
  3. You have to plan. It takes some effort to make sure you are getting good fuel in your body.  It can be so easy to just grab a cookie or a bag of chips when we feel hungry or stressed.  The grocery store is full of convenient foods, but those foods aren’t necessarily good fuels.  One great way to make sure your body gets good food is to meal plan.  Plan a week in advance what you will have for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day.  Write your grocery list from that plan.  That way you know you will have lots of good fuel!
  4. Remember who is watching. Your attitude toward food is contagious.  There may be little ones in your house who are modeling their behavior after yours.  These attitudes can last a lifetime.  What lessons are your behaviors teaching?
  5. Educate yourself.  If you don’t know what foods make good fuel, go to the library and read up on it or ask a nutritionist.  Make sure you know what foods make your body run at its peak.

This whole topic of food as fuel is on my mind this week as I think about my goal I made last Monday on Goal Gathering Monday at The Bona Fide Life.  My goal was to get more consistent with exercising.  As I went through my workouts last week, I noticed my food needs changing.  My appetite increased and I started craving fresher foods.  I really needed to pay attention to my eating habits along with my exercising habits to make sure my workouts would be effective.  The better I ate, the more energy I had to workout.

So this week, I planned what I am going to fuel my body with.  I wanted this plan to be balanced with protein and carbs and fats, but also up my intake of fruits and veggies (something my diet was lacking these winter months).  I had to also keep in mind that this plan had to feed my family, too.  I couldn’t get too crazy.  Here is my food for fuel, family friendly menu for this week.


  • fruit/yogurt/protein smoothies
  • toasted homemade bread with natural peanut butter and honey or homemade apple butter
  • whole grain cereal with berries


  • homemade tomato soup
  • salads
  • left-overs from dinner
  • bean and cheese burrito


  • Chili (made with ground turkey and lots of beans)
  • whole grain pasta with sauce made with tomatoes, garlic, green peppers and onions, and a salad
  • black beans and rice, tortillas, avocado salad
  • vegetable frittata, roasted potatoes
  • broccoli /veggie cheese soup, chicken wings

I am linking this post up to Goal Gathering Monday at The Bona Fide Life and Menu Plan Monday at Organizing Junkie.

goal gatheringmenu plan monday (2)

Another great resource that is just getting up and going is The Bona Fide Life Network. This is going to be a great community to ask questions and chat with other women about issues that affect us.  Come and join the network.  I’ll be posting some goal and food stuff on the forum later today!

Comments (7)


  1. Chele says:

    Great idea for this weeks goal! Love it! Thank you for sharing!

  2. ang says:

    Marci I love this – great reminder. In fact I’m tempted to print FOOD IS FUEL and stick it on my fridge!! :)

  3. Hey Marci! You are so sweet! Your post today is great and the menus sound yummy.

    One thing I am trying to be mindful of (along with your amazing tips) is to keep food out of site…off the counter tops. Just this afternoon I walked through the kitchen and there were 3 pieces of left-over cinnamon raisin bread from breakfast still sitting on the cookie sheet. Just seeing them made me tempted to eat (when I was not hungry). I tossed them in the trash to remove the temptation.

    I’m going to borrow your menu for vegetable frittata and roasted potatoes-never made it but sounds yummy! And homemade apple butter? That sounds amazing too!

  4. Jessica says:

    Love it Marci!! You know I feel the same way, I do not like to “skimp” on the food I feed my family; I belive that feeding them good food saves on money on medicine, dr.s appts, etc. After overindulging over the holidays, we all got sick and so now it is back to healthy eating!!

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