There’s a classic Saturday Night Live sketch where John Belushi portrays a dominant track athletic at his peak. His secret? Little chocolate donuts. It spoofs every performance food ad of the time and really, since. And it raises the question—what exactly are we eating for optimal performance in our days?
Travel opens our eyes to what constitutes breakfast from place-to-place, and forces us to examine what exactly we consume to start our day. What exactly fuels us as we begin our days? As we learn more about what is good for us and what simply fills us up, shouldn’t our expectations for what we consume is evolve?
Eating breakfast in places around the world, you immediately pick up on the differences. Americans are heavy on portion size. We like our eggs and bacon and pancakes with a healthy pile of home fries or grits, depending on how you feel about snow. Austrians and Germans seem to favor cheese and cold cuts with a hard-boiled egg and bread. Other countries favor fish, olives, figs, dates and yogurt.
Who’s right? We are what we eat, but the Mediterranean diet seems to be the consensus pick for healthiest. Still, it might be a tough transition from corn flakes or biscuits to smoked fish and a handful of figs. Ultimately, we have to decide what we’re going to eat. We ought to lean in on fuel and shy from fill. But who doesn’t love a chocolate donut now and then?
I suppose the answer is to standardize on the healthy diet, and splurge occasionally on the things that taste good in the moment but aren’t especially good fuel for our bodies. It’s a pay me now or pay me later scenario, but the now is a very immediate rush of satisfaction and a fairly short window before the debt is owed. If we can resist the immediate temptation until we’re satiated on the good stuff, maybe we can avoid the bad stuff altogether.