Usually around major holidays, we see memes and articles floating around on social media that specify how much exercise it would take to "burn off" the calories in a particular holiday meal. We see the same infographics for different fast food options as well. The proper term for this is a transactional relationship: we eat one thing, we do another thing to make up for it.
This principle is most commonly seen in businesses. You give me money, I will give you this product or service. It makes sense to then apply it to food and what we eat, right?
Obviously, you know my answer: no. Not so much.
You see, when we start to treat the food we are putting in our body as a transactional relationship, we lose sight of what and why we actually need the food in the first place: fuel, energy, life, vitality. Food is fuel; food is medicine.
But too often, we get stuck in the "I overate on the *bad* foods, so I need to burn this off as quickly as possible" cycle. Unfortunately, our bodies don't work or respond to this method (obviously - if it did work, we wouldn't be in the health mess we are in, would we??). Calories are not just a math equation. Eat 800 calories, run for over an hour to burn 800 calories, and the net effect is NOT zero as we might imagine.
Our bodies are smarter than that. Again, if it was as simple as a math equation, we would be in the health and obesity crisis we are in today.
Plus, the more we rely on transactional relationships, the more we facilitate the guilt and shame cycle. It is this cycle that messes with our mental health and self-image. When we constantly beat ourselves up about our food choices, we start to apply that same negativity to other aspects of our health, especially how our body looks.
That guilt and shame, the insessant need to somehow "fix" whatever you did wrong, is draining, mentally and physically. It's no way to live a healthy life because our mind and thoughts determine a large majority of our health.
When we rely on these transactional relationships, we are missing the point and the key element: intuition. When we intuitively listen to our body, we naturally choose to eat the foods and do the activities that make us feel good. We naturally choose NOT to eat the foods and do the activities that make us feel unhealthy and not our best. Do we sometimes choose the lesser path because in the moment it is worth it to us? Yes. Should we feel guilt and shame after making a *conscious* decision to have or do that particular thing? No.
Our bodies, our health, our lives are not built upon transactional relationships, and it is when we start to move away from this reductionistic mentality, that we can experience true health, both of mind and body.