Running isn’t a punishment—and all food is fuel, even that third helping of turkey and gravy.
Every year around the holidays, that tired joke about having to “run off” Thanksgiving dinner rears its ugly head. It’s the kind of aside that’s become so normalized, we don’t even think about how harmful the inherent food shaming can be.
Because—let’s get this out of the way right off the bat—there’s no reciprocal relationship between food and running. The idea that if you run more, you can eat more, or if you run less, you should eat less is totally false. That twisted thought pattern implies that you have to earn your food, or that running is punishment for eating. Nope. We run because we love to run, and we eat in a way that fuels our runs—it’s as simple as that.
“Eating is not a moral issue,” says Nancy Clark, R.D., author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook and a weight coach for ultrarunners and marathoners. “Food is fuel, and there’s no such thing as good food or bad food. There’s a balanced diet and an unbalanced diet, and one meal does not throw off that balance.”