The exact source of this phrase is unknown but it is said that Anthelme Brillat-Savarin used this phrase in his book, “Physiologie du Gout, ou Meditations de Gastronomie Transcendante” published in 1826 and it translates in English as, “[Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are].” Later in his essay, Concerning Spiritualism and Materialism in 1863-64, Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach also used this phrase in almost similar meanings. Both imply the same meanings that food we eat has a bearing on our mental and physical conditions.
It is a metaphorical expression implying what people eat could eventually affect their lives. If they eat healthy food, they will feel healthy, and if they eat rubbish and junk food, they will not feel healthy. It is because these are the types of foods, which affect human weight and consequently affect hair condition, organs, teeth skin, and brain cells, etc. To simply put it, food defines your physical and mental character.
The phrase means that to become healthy and fit, one needs to eat balanced and good food. For instance, if you eat consistently a variety of life-sustaining, healthy and whole foods, then your body would glow and give you better feelings. If you eat mostly nutrient-dense foods, such as whole plant foods including beans, onions, berries, seeds, green vegetables, and fruits, you would get a heavy amount of minerals, vitamins, anti-oxidants, phyto-nurtrients and carotenoids that keep human body strong, healthy and also protect it from high cholesterol, cancer and heart diseases. However, in case you live on fast foods or junk and trash, it will certainly affect your bodily organs and lead to several physical ailments as well as impacts your mental condition.
This phrase first appeared in Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s book, and is translated into English as;
“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”
In fact, it intends to encourage and motivate people to be health conscious in that they need to consider every food item before they take in.
On the surface, the phrase conveys that to be healthy and fit, your intake of food should be good. However, the interpretation could go deeper as, foods contains different nutrients including vitamins, amino acids, minerals, etc. and our human body cells are made up of these nutrients. When we eat this food, our digestive system extracts these nutrients from food, and it becomes part of body cells, and finally this food makes us feel strong and fresh, if it is balanced diet or weak and tired, if not containing sufficient ingredients. Hence, it affects our thinking too. Literally we become what we eat. Also, there are a number of healthy and unhealthy eaters around the world, yet the statistics prove that some people are healthier than others, depending upon which type of meal they eat daily. That is why the use of this phrase indicates a mental makeup of a nation.
- Metaphor: Food is a metaphor for human beings.