You Are What You Eat

Growing up, this phrase was rampantly used by the media and teachers.  I recall seeing dozens of TV commercials using food and body parts as symbols to attack “bad foods” and promote healthy eating.

The phrase was made in the 19th c. by French politician Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin in his book Physiologie du Gout, ou Meditations de Gastronomie Transcendante.  Brillat-Savarin meant that what we intake has an effect on our being.  While the low carb enthusiast was referring to eating food, does adage stop there?

We are what we eat, both physically and metaphorically.  The things we associate ourselves with greatly affect our character.

Do we not metaphorically eat other things?  Is not the air we breathe affect our state of being?  Tobacco Free California would definitely agree.  Are not the people we surround ourselves with affect our state of being? would agree.  Are not the things we watch on television or in person affect our state of being?  Peter Gabriel would agree.

That said, I am not promoting the saying “birds of a feather flock together.”  I am not stating that “if you hang with jerks, you are one.”  I am not stating that “if you play violent video games, you will end up being a murderer.”  These are terrible overgeneralisations that need to be relooked.

However, what you associate yourself with does affect you on the subconscious level.  We often believe that we can compartmentalise our character from the world around us, thinking that our inner-self can be safe from the external forces of this world.  But we are an amalgamation of the things around us.  While we still have a spirit that’s separate from the rest of this world, our character is constantly being molded by what’s around us.  Even if we disdain sarcasm, if we surround ourselves long enough with sarcastic people, our subconscious is more likely to pardon or even embrace that trait.

That said, we shouldn’t try to hide from the world and shut ourselves off from every vice around us.  We are human, and vices flow through our blood—we can’t hide from that.  We also shouldn’t hide from people of differing ideas.  That would go in contradiction to almost every blog I’ve written thus far.

But if one works in a job that only pays, it is important to do things we are passionate about on the side to remind ourselves of who we are.  If one lives with roommates that only watches shows of morals they disagree with, then it’s important to supplement what we see with what we need.

Ultimately, we need to be wary of what we surround ourselves with.  We need to have people in our lives similar enough so that the traits we hold dear are replenished from outside sources.  Variety is a good thing, but we need to have people and things that remind us of who we are so that we do not lose our inner character to the voices of the world.

We all have an inner character with its own inborn passions and morals.  How will you let it grow?  We are what we eat, both physically and metaphorically.  What will you feed yourself?

About Jonathan Seligman

Jon is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of NWYT. While his main profession is in education/music/history, he has a deep passion for philosophy, theology, ice cream, and everything else that life has to offer. See All of Jon’s Posts

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