Food. What is it ? Let's Be Clear
Food for humans comes from ANIMALS - meat, fish, eggs, and dairy.
Plants are NOT food, they are MEDICINE.
Sugar is not food, it is a DRUG.
Just because we put something in our mouths, doesn't make it food.
I have a background in philosophy, I like conceptual clarity. Nutrition can be insanely complicated, all the more reason to be clear on fundamentals.
Why do we eat ? The main reason is not for energy. Most of us are carrying enough energy around our bodies already to keep us going for months. It needs topping up for sure, but unless we are actually starving there is no urgency. More important is the need to regenerate, rebuild, our body's structures, from a cellular level up. Its a good idea to do that every day or so.
We often forget this, I think partially under the influence of the dominant 'Calories In, Calories Out' model, maybe also a memory of harsher times in the not too distant past. Placing regeneration at the centre, on the other hand, helps sharpen our focus on what we should be eating, namely the building blocks of the human body - fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. These come ideally from animals, for the simple reason that we are animals too.
Its true that we can also eat plants, and gain some nutritional value from them. Plants, however, are second rate when compared to animal products on every single measure of nutrition, the proportions of their proteins and micronutrients are inferior, many of their fats are dangerous. Unlike animal products, plants are also naturally loaded with anti-nutrients, toxins. We can eat them, but only if we really have to, and always with care.
Plants are best understood as medicine. I take this idea from Natasha Campbell-McBride.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPW3rbqWNu4 She uses the term 'cleanser', my preference for 'medicine' is purely stylistic. Plants are useful for healing purposes, for addressing deficiencies or imbalances, for treating certain conditions. Human cultures and traditions all over the world have been using local plants as medicine for millennia, based on a hard gained knowledge over which are safe to take and which are poisonous, and how to prepare them.
Medicines should never be taken indiscriminately. We would never think of walking in to a pharmacy, and saying 'I'll have one of each, thanks, that should make sure I never get sick from anything'. That's a guaranteed way of getting in to trouble. Its no different with fruits, seeds, vegetables, or herbs.
So far so good. Real life, of course, is more complicated. We eat for many reasons, nutrition only being one. We do eat for energy, because if we have a diet based on carbohydrates then we get hungry, often. If money is an issue, which it usually is, we choose foods that are cheap and filling. In recent times, with women entering the workforce rather than cooking at home, we also go for convenience, whatever is quick and easy, ready to hand.
We also eat for pleasure, we choose things that taste good and lift our mood. This is where sugar often comes in, which has a pathway within the brain that is similar to cocaine, and is highly addictive. This is why it is helpful to consider sugar as a drug, not a food.
There are good reasons to take drugs, not only sugar, but also alcohol, or even to smoke. These can be social, they can be spiritual, alcohol has been an invaluable bonding tool between men across many cultures, mind altering substances important in religious ceremonies almost everywhere. This does not make beer or tobacco food.
We can understand this better if we contrast sugar with salt. We can get cravings for salt that are just as powerful as those for sugar. The difference is - if we crave salt, we should eat some. Our body is simply telling us we are deficient, and to fix it. The same applies with thirst - if you are thirsty, drink some water. Simple. In the case of sugar, however, a craving is more likely to arise out of a neural process similar to other addictive substances, rather than a nutritional requirement. This is true even if our blood sugar is low, there are other energy sources we can use to address that problem. If its salt we crave, on the other hand, then only salt will do.
So, food comes from animals.
Plants are medicine.
Sugar is a drug.
If we keep our focus strictly on nutrition, then these statements hold. That good. Life is complicated, but not always, some things are simple.