You Are What You Eat

Meanings of “You Are What You Eat”

The phrase/proverb “you are what you eat” means our eating habits define our way of life. It also means that to be healthy and fit you need to take clean food.

Origin of “You Are What You Eat”

The phrase/proverb “you are what you eat” seems to have originated from the French language. It was first used in 1862 in Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s book, Physiologie du Gout, ou Meditations de Gastronomie Transcendante. Where it is stated as; “Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.” The phrase/proverb emerged in the English language in the 1930s when Victor Lindlahr, a nutritionist, developed a catabolic diet. Since then, it has been used in almost the same sense but in different words.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Food in History by Reay Tannahill

If Brillat-Savarin had been alive today [1970’s], he might have thought twice before he said: “Tell me what you eat: I will tell you what you are.” Certainly, he would have qualified it, for no sane analyst of gastronomic history could be expected to deduce a Liverpool pop singer from yogurt and unpolished rice, or a Manhattan millionaire from black-eyed peas and chitterlings; to connect Scotch whisky with a Frenchman, or French bread with a Japanese. But these apparently wild deviations from the logic of the table—although they have more to do with contemporary social pressures than with food do reflect a new and more general attitude of flexibility in the prosperous countries of the world and among the richer classes in developing countries.”

Reay Tannahill explains Brillat-Savarin’s statement and its importance in the light of today’s food culture. Brillat’s philosophy states that our emotional, mental, and physical health is determined by what we eat but the situation seems opposite in the contemporary world. People, nowadays, prefer to maintain their worldly status more than food. Food choices among the rich and prosperous countries have become more flexible with more choices. It seems that food has also become a symbol of social status. The phrase/proverb has used as a metaphor for eating.

Example #2

You Are What You Eat by Dr. Gillian Mckeith

Written by Dr. Gillian Mckeith, the book, You Are What You Eat, talks about healthy eating and its positive impacts on man’s physical and mental health. The writer addresses the problems of overweight or clinically obese people who are struggling with their weight, feeling that they have no energy. The world offers us a lot of food choices, and people mostly prefer junk food or processed food that causes many health problems. Therefore, Dr. Gillian Mckeith gives them much needed advice about diet plans and clean eating. The book contains several interactive topics, including recipes, Food Intelligence Quotient Test, Immune system and stress self-checks, and 7 Day Jumpstart plan. The phrase shows its meanings clearly when used as the title of the book.

Example #3

From Book of Common Prayer by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer

“We offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee; humbly beseeching thee that we, and all others who shall be partakers of this Holy Communion, may worthily receive the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son Jesus Christ, be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with him, that he may dwell in us, and we in him.”

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, in his prayer book, attempts to detail the true meanings of the phrase/proverb in the light of his spiritual learning. He says that we offer our bodies and souls to the service of Christ. It is through this service, we fill our souls with heavenly grace and benediction. Although the phrase/proverb is not used directly in the above-stated prayers, yet the meanings are quite clear from the text.

Example #4

You Are What You Eat by Edward Kofi Louis

“You are what you eat!
Meat as well,
Heat of your love!
Seat of wisdom,
Beat of life,
You are what you eat!
Wheat,
Great is your love;
To stay healthy!”

The speaker reflects the literal meanings of the quote, saying that our eating justifies our mode of life. To him, a healthy body and sound soul enable us to enjoy the true taste of life. We can enjoy joyous feelings like love, happiness. Even wisdom works in a sound brain. Therefore, we need to be very particular about our eating. Otherwise, we won’t be able to walk on the normal course of life. The phrase/proverb has been beautifully transformed into an extended metaphor, another literary device.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “My doctors advised me to avoid eating junk and adopt healthy eating, after all, we are what we eat.”

Example #2:My friend and I attended a seminar called “you are what you eat”, which shed light on the benefits of a healthy diet.”

Example #3: “Tim’s dramatic body transformation surprised us; upon asking, he said, “you are what you eat.”

Example #4: “He does not know how to get rid of obesity. All he knows is to turn his head to the other side and does not take care of his health. Different people tried to make him understand that we are what we eat, but he has always turned a deaf ear to the advice.”

Example #5: “You are what you eat, so eat healthy food, do exercise regularly, and read good books.”