Do you live to eat or eat to live? Do you have a complicated relationship with food? Read this article to find out more about food.

Magazine - Food


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Do we live to eat or eat to live? That is the question.

I remember as a child growing up in Britain having fish and chips or baked beans on toast at least twice a week on my lap while watching my favourite cartoon. Of course I enjoyed my food but it wasn’t something I often talked about. Now, I’m not blaming my culture for my lack of interest in food at an early age. Perhaps my silence was due to the fact that I didn’t know anything about food. How many children know that prawns only turn pink when they are cooked and that tuna does not come from a can? Now after having lived in Southern Europe, Asia and Australia I find myself talking about food all the time. The world has seduced my taste buds and opened my mouth.

Food that’s plain and simple is often the best but not always so. For many of us food is a need. For others, food is a friend. Yet to some others food is an enemy. Cravings grip us at all the wrong times while we struggle to follow a strict diet that turned all our favourite desserts into mortal sins. There are others who regard food as an investment. To them, food has some kind of special powers that can control their lives, for better or for worse. If that’s the case, it’s time to change and make food work for us.

Let’s start by using food the way you would use a pencil or a pair of scissors. We begin using food as a tool. Like tools, some food works well for some tasks and some is specially designed to accomplish others.

Let’s say you’re feeling down. You had a tough day or a tiff with a best friend that drove you round the bend. You decide to treat yourself to a bar of chocolate –nothing like chocolate to perk you up. Unfortunately you’re setting yourself up for a higher dose of the blues. That’s because chocolate bars have a hefty amount of fat and sugar – which takes a long time to digest and can draw energy away from your brain – and caffeine which will temporarily boost your mood and alertness but send you crashing back down as soon as its effect starts to wear off.

Does this mean snacking is a bad idea when you’re feeling down? Not at all. You just have to do it wisely. In place of a chocolate bar, have a slice of toast with chunky marmalade. Then instead of fat and caffeine you’ve just given yourself a dose of vitamin C that has been shown to fight depression. In addition, marmalade is loaded with the type of sugar that spurs the release of mood-lifting chemicals in the brain.

In fact you can manage your mood and boost your brainpower, metabolism, even your sex life, by eating the right food. Whatever your goals, you can custom-design a diet to help you meet them. Here’s how taking control of your food can help you take control of your life.

The next time you have an important meeting that requires mental processing, try some brain processing food that looks like this: tuna salad on whole wheat bread, green salad with tomatoes, a handful of nuts, bananas, a glass of skimmed milk. Tuna, bananas, nuts and whole wheat bread are high in vitamin B6, which has been scientifically proven to help preserve cognitive skills. Protein-rich food contains a nutrient called Tyrosine, which studies have shown, are linked to clear thinking and alertness. Greens such as broccoli and spinach naturally contain loads of vitamins and iron. Lack of these nutrients can lead to fatigue and difficulty in concentrating.

Having said all that, let’s not be too stressed about what we eat. Many scientists these days believe that indulging in life’s little pleasures may actually help improve your health because of the psychological lift it gives you. There is a lot of truth in the old saying that ‘a little of what you fancy does you good’.





Hello ahmed only,

You can find the meaning of this phrase (and any others you wish to look up) by using our Cambridge Dictionaries Online tool.  Just type 'round the bend' into the window on the right and click 'Look it up!' to get a definition, examples, pronunciation and more.  It's a very useful tool.

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Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

whenever i try to download the audio track from your page, the full track doesn't get i tried to download the audio on 'food' i.e 2.07 mb....and only 1.28 mb gets to download the full track...??

Hello madee,
I'm sorry you're having problems with the download.  I've tried it on two different computers (one Macintosh, one Windows) and each time i've downloaded the full file without any problems.  That suggests the problem is rather at your end - perhaps something related to your internet connection or your browser settings.
Do you have similar problems downloading other audio files from LearnEnglish, or downloading files from other sites?
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

these days. i;m in a bad mood. i've told lots of my friends all of my past and present bad experiences related to my appearence and love .but i desperately can't solve them.when i'm with my friends. i feel a little bit less uncomfortable and safe. when i'm alone or have no one suitable to share my thoughts, i 'm extremely down . It is as if the world has immediately fallen down on me and i'm surrounded by darkness and hopelessness. i do hope someone can tell me something to relieve me of my spiritual pain.i can't share all of my psychological problems with you in details cause i've repeated it many times to my friends.talking is easy but doing is difficult

Hello ivytranno nguyen!
I am sorry to hear you are unhappy at the moment. Now, I'm an English teacher, not a doctor, but here are some thoughts.

When you are in this state, it can be very difficult to see the positive side of life. I see from your other posts that you are just starting out at university - and it is often very difficult to see your way ahead at that age. It's good that your friends are there to help you, and you shouldn't worry about relying on them for help.
Getting out of this mood can be hard. As you say, doing anything about it can be difficult. There are some things that will definitely help, though. Doing some exercise every day will make you feel better and help you sleep. You said in one of your comments that singing and drawing make you feel better - try to focus on those things, too. Make sure you stay in touch with your friends and family, as well. If you can, find someone neutral - not a friend or family member, but a counsellor or similar- to talk these things through, even if you no longer want to discuss them with your friends. You could also try reading some self-help books. I don't know what books are available in Vietnamese, but one in English that lots of people think is good is 'Feeling Good' by David Burns.

Remember that these feelings do not last, no matter how you feel right now, and that things can and do get better.

Best wishes,
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

  this artical is very good

I’m gonna to talk about the last part of article I’m the kind of person  who prefers taste than nutrition because food tasts good perks me up and makes me happy. Happiness is important for good heath. I believe if something doesn’t taste good, people won’t eat it no matter how nutritious it is.

I’m not sure to eat any food I want as long as my diet is balanced because I don’t know the effects that the food and drink I consume have on my body. Most of time I treat myself to mug of green tea to digest after a big meal.

After I got a job I face a big problem as I have to eat in limited time sitting on desk, and to boost my cognitive skills drink a lot of caffeine espically when I’m tired and fatigue I rely on coffe but still green tea is even better.

Hi everybody!
What is the meaning of "blues" in this sentence: "Unfortunately you’re setting yourself up for a higher dose of the blues."

Hi Ayeche,
Have you tried entering this word into the 'Cambridge Dictionaries Online' box at the right-hand side of the page? It should give you the answer.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

I did it. Is it a type of music or feeling or showing sadness?
Dose is used with substances like sugar, fat...
I think it is not important to understand everything.