Whenever someone tells me about their diet – how specific it is, how healthy it is, and how good and right and virtuous it is, I wonder in the back of my mind “So what?” I don’t think this in a mean way. I just want to know – is there a point to your fabulously healthy or effective diet? What’s the greater purpose? For sure, many people follow their healthy diet so they can be healthy. Sounds sensible. Others eat a good diet so they can have oodles of energy, or endurance, or strength, or a slender body. I’d like to suggest that as good as these reasons are, they aren’t always good enough. Allow me to explain:

The field of nutrition has become a bit religious.

It tells us to follow its commandments devoutly and piously. If indeed we do adhere to our dietary system perfectly, we often have a feeling that we’re somehow good boys and girls – clean, holy, and assured of a special place in nutritional heaven. Can you relate? I’m still surprised how so many people are on a “health crusade.” For sure, I love health, I practice it as best I can, and I teach about it with a lot of passion. But I’m suggesting that good health and long life have their limits. What happens if you live to be a vibrant 100 years old – yet you’re a total jerk? The people around you would rather have you dead a long time ago.

Health by itself doesn’t always have meaning. Humans need a reason, a purpose for being here, alive, on planet earth. So what if you spend a ton of energy sculpting a skinny body. What else is happening in your life? What’s your skinny body for? What gift are you here to give others? Is your life purpose simply to eat vegetarian, or raw food, or low calorie, or macrobiotic? Of course not. We’re way more interesting and destined for far more greatness than being a finely controlled eater with a nice hot metabolism.

A healthy body is a grace. It’s a cosmic and earthly gift.

It might even be a privilege. Are you willing to use this gift to give back to the world? Can you see that the body is meant to serve a deeper and more beautiful purpose in life that’s more than just being pretty, skinny or healthy? Yes, it’s great to have personal goals, to feel good, to look the way we want, and to celebrate a little vanity. I’m all for it. But when the majority of our life force is being pumped into diet, exercise, worrying about health, or obsessing about weight – we waste the most important resource we have – our potential.

Oddly enough, one of the best ways to help transform any eating challenge – be it overeating, binge eating, negative body image, an eating disorder – is service to others. Our eating issues have us focus very intently on self. But healing often lives beyond our own inner world. When we give of ourselves fully, something magical happens with our eating problems. They naturally downsize, and our true power reveals itself. I see this all the time in our Eating Psychology Training. Our students so often break free from their own food challenges and obsessions as their desire to serve others is practically expressed.

So, not only do we teach a wealth of skills at the Institute, but we have students do deep and powerful work on self. We find some of the best counselors have their own journey with food and body that lead them to help others in a sincere and meaningful way. So you don’t just need a long academic resume to be an effective practitioner. Your own heartfelt challenges are perhaps one of the greatest qualifiers.

The world needs you.

It wants you, your gift, your talents, your service, your heart, your mind, and your creative potential fulfilled. It needs you to help others in your special way. The world isn’t so interested in whether or not you’ve been eating low fat or high fiber, or if you finally lost the 5 pounds. So yes, let’s eat healthy, look good, sculpt our bodies and have lots of energy. Just have a beautiful plan of how you’re going to use all that to give respect and honor to the Great Circle of Life. Good nutrition isn’t just about what goes into the body. It’s also about everything that flows forth from heart and soul, and how we feed and nourish the world.

What changes have you noticed in your life since you began embracing your gifts?

My warmest regards,
Marc David
Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2014

Tweet Me!

Hasn’t the field of nutrition become a bit religious?

The world needs you

© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2014


The Slow Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy, and Weight Loss

Get My Book!

Get Your FREE Video Series

New Insights to Forever Transform Your Relationship with Food

P.S. – If you haven’t had a chance to check out our FREE information packed video series – The Dynamic Eating Psychology Breakthrough – you can sign up for it HERE. It’s a great way to get a better sense of the work we do here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. If you’re inspired by this work and want to learn about how you can become certified as an Eating Psychology Coach, please go HERE to learn more. And if you’re interested in working on your own personal relationship with food, check out our breakthrough 8-week program designed for the public – Transform Your Relationship with Food™ HERE.

  • Exactly how I feel about exercise: are you here to sculpt the perfect body, lift as much weight as you can, run or bike as far or as fast, etc…. “for what”? Diet, skin care, and exercise practices: distraction and disillusionment. However, I feel many of us are waking up….

  • Kudos to you for drawing attention to the psychological, emotional and spiritual aspects of food, nutrition and weight issues! Regardless of how well versed or disciplined we are in the technical aspects of healthy eating and exercise, if we do not integrate all of that with a greater purpose and meaning we remain heartbroken and unsuccessful. Additionally, we need to get to the core, the root, issues that create unhealthy eating and living in the first place.

  • Brittany

    Love this article! Any way to record the free talks for the one’s that don’t live in Colorado? I’d love to hear them all the way in FL 🙂

  • Thank you, Marc. I am in the process of trying to figure it out myself. What IS it all for? I got very ill at a young age with a bizarre autoimmune disease that Western medicine couldn’t explain or figure out which lead me on my own confusing, winding, thrilling, treacherous, enlightening path towards my goal for “health.” Now, I am not sure that health is so much about the body but rather a complex, multistriated interlocking web of small pieces from mind to spirit to soul to body to energy – connected to the entire cosmos and beyond!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • Marc David

      Hi Courtney,

      Thank you for your sweet words. How wonderful that you discovered such profound wisdom on your journey.
      I am thrilled to know that I have served as a part of your winding path to what health truly means for you.

      My warmest regards,

      Marc David

  • Health with meaning. What a great concept, Marc! That thought alone will help me evaluate food before I put it in my mouth — not in a knee-jerk, “good-bad” way, but with purpose and total enjoyment. Thank you!

    • Marc David

      Hi Kimby,

      Thank you for your kind words.
      So great to hear that you have gained value from this article!

      Warm regards,

      Marc David

  • joy

    Hey Marc,
    You know I love you, just don’t like to assume just because someone is eating really well and caring for the home of their soul in a good way, that they are not serving or helping others or expressing their potential greatness.
    When a person is sick with anything from depression to auto-immune disorders to arthritis, they cannot focus well on serving or anything else for that matter. Being truly healthy with the energy it takes to fuel all good things takes a lot in the world we live in.
    I see clients every day who want to do more and be more, but frankly their addiction to sugar and their sick bodies create a huge barrier to that end!
    So in my book, I can’t say “so what” to an amazing diet, I say’ good for you!! Now use it for good!’
    The toxicity and convenience in “food” today and the fast pace of our world creates a need to be a bit “religious” about our diet and exercise. I understand it can be a thin line to obsession, but a good adherence to a healthy lifestyle should in no way be poo pooed or devalued. It takes a whole lot of effort and discipline and in many cases I see, is the difference between life and death literally and figuratively.

    • Marc David

      Hi Joy –

      Thanks for your thoughtful response!
      Actually, we are saying the same thing and we are on the same page.
      I love a healthy diet, and I would love for all the world to eat healthfully.
      I also understand that some people who have health challenges need to focus much or all of their energy on healing, with little left to do anything else.
      I am not saying that “just because someone is eating really well and caring for the home of their soul in a good way, that they are not serving or helping others or expressing their potential greatness”. In fact not at all. I agree that it is great to have personal goals, to feel good, to look the way we want. I personally choose to eat high-quality, organic, etc. I would never make the assumption that someone doing that is not serving other or expressing their greatest potential. That being said, what I was trying to emphasize was this: I see more and more people being caught up in the quest for the “perfect” diet and the “perfect” body in the hope that it will make them eternally happy – and all their life force and creative power gets taken up with food, dieting, exercise, worrying and perfection. Theses are the kinds pf people who I am saying might want to expand their viewpoint, and look at their behaviors and ask “why am I putting all my life force into these pursuits?” Oftentimes, such people are wasting the most important resource they have – their potential. I hope this clear things up…


      Marc David

  • Michelle

    Thank you Marc for such a great article. I was one of those people! In my 20’s and 30’s, that’s all I thought. That if I just have a perfect body, then people will like me. Now, at almost 44 years old, I am just realizing that it is much much more! It’s hard to come out of that shell, that way of thinking ans self control but it can be done! I just wish I knew about your school before I went to IIN. As a person with a past in anorexia and overeating, I love your focus!

    • Marc David

      Hi Michelle,

      Thank you for your kind words.
      Congratulations to you! Sounds like you are experiencing some great shifts in your life.
      We are so grateful that you have found IPE and that you are part of this community, perhaps you will be able to join us in the future.

      Warm regards,

      Marc David

  • KarnaN

    Hi everyone,

    Karna here, Director of Student Relations at the Institute.
    Thank you for all of your comments!
    We really appreciate your feedback.

    Warm regards,

    Karna Nau

  • Hi Marc, how funny I read your article just now! I just had a long conversation with a friend about this topic. I told her I felt sick and very very tired the first and biggest part of my life, although I was eating biologically, taking all kinds of vitamins, healthy pills, oligo-elements, powders, teas, homeopathic remedies, massages and visits to the healthdoctor, acupuncture and everything I could imagine to have a healthy body. It didn’t work. Until I asked myself: WHAT I am doing here on this earth? WHAT is the purpose of my life? This became my new focus and since then I help, as a psychologist, on a daily basis, in sessions and through my workshops and the books I’ve written, other people to find THEIR purpose. It became my ‘specialty’. Since I found my higher purpose, I eat whatever I want, I am very healthy (says also the doctor) and slim… all my former obsessions with food and health and a slim body are gone, and guess: I AM healthy now, I HAVE a slim body and I take every food which feels good to me. This state of high health lasts since 15 years, so it is permanent. So I agree totally with what you write Marc and I am the living prove that it is true. My health came not through obsessing about it, my slim body not through obsessing about it either, but as a result of finding my Higher Purpose in life. As I see and teach it: a healthy body is the GIFT you receive when you start GIVING to others, when you start living your life along your Higher Purpose. And of course, I learned to love myself so I naturally eat healthy food now, just to feel good, but without any obsession or thought about calories or whatever. I have tons of energy now, don’t take any supplement anymore since many years and live in perfect health. This is what I show and teach to others too: concentrate on the essential questions in life: WHO am I and What am I here fore? Otherwise: WHAT is the Higher Purpose of my life? And health, as abundance, as love, as richness, will automatically follow. They are a consequence of being on the right track with the purpose of the Soul.

    • Marc David

      Hi Ineke,

      Thank you for sharing your personal journey! When you found a “higher purpose” in your life in the form of helping others, you truly opened your mind and your heart and let your mind-body connection take its natural course. It seems that you have found a healthy balance; I know you will continue to be an inspiration for others! Congrats…


      Marc David

  • Hi Marc,

    Been enjoying your posts and they seem to resonate with my thoughts around food and consciousness, as discussed at my own blog, sereneexpression

    I particularly liked this post because I often feel exactly the same. As a society, we tend to place more emphasis on longevity(quantity) rather than a life well lived(quality). Undoubtedly, pondering what one intends to do with a long and healthy life, is a valuable inquiry.

    Warm Regards,


    • Marc David

      Hi Sangeeta,

      Thank you for imparting your wisdom.
      I agree wholeheartedly, it is important to spend our lives connecting with what makes us really become alive.
      As Socrates articulated: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
      We are fortunate to have you in our community.


      Marc David

  • Stephen Kemper

    Hi Marc,

    I love your honesty. The fact that overcoming an eating challenge is helped by being of service to others is not the typical approach to modern day fitness and nutrition. Fresh and genuine ideas like that are what we need to hear.

    WHY do we want to be healthy?

    Thank you for encouraging me, and others, to identify your higher calling in why you’re eating healthy.


    • Marc David


      I appreciate your kind words. Some approaches to health can be very narrow. It’s important to broaden our perspective and tap into a deeper understanding of our relationship with food. Our approach celebrates life, and honors who we are as eaters, holistically – body, heart and soul. Keep that motivation and positive energy rooted within your personal higher calling and continue to nourish the world with your good health and nutrition! Thank you again for your comment!

      Warm regards,

      Marc David

  • Tim

    Thank you Marc. That makes complete sense to me. I’ve long felt the reason I need to cultivate health is because, as egotistical as it may seem, the world needs a healthy and fit me. I strongly feel I have a purpose that I will not be able to fulfill if I am unhealthy.

    • Tim –

      I’m glad it makes sense. You’re desire to be fit and healthy to do good in the world is a noble one, just know that you’re gifts may already be useful in the here and now and can become active even while you’re on the path to become fit and healthy. There’s no day like today.


      Marc David

  • Flavia Lupp

    As soon as I read the title of the article, something clicked. You are right. Serving others really make us forget about our problems and in my case, even forget to eat :). I hope this works every time :). Thank you for the article.

  • Thank you for your kind words, Flavia! Community is so important, and I’m glad you are part of the IPE community! Warmly, Marc

About The Author
Marc David

Marc David is the Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, a leading visionary, teacher and consultant in Nutritional Psychology, and the author of the classic and best-selling works Nourishing Wisdom and The Slow Down Diet. His work has been featured on CNN, NBC and numerous media outlets. His books have been translated into over 10 languages, and his approach appeals to a wide audience of eaters who are looking for fresh, inspiring and innovative messages about food, body and soul. He lectures internationally, and has held senior consulting positions at Canyon Ranch Resorts, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Johnson & Johnson Corporation, and the Disney Company. Marc is also the co-founder of the Institute for Conscious Sexuality and Relationship.