So many people love food, love the pleasure of food, and in an ideal galaxy, would love to have a lot more pleasurable foods coming through the pipeline. This makes perfect sense, as we are literally and physiologically built for pleasure. All organisms on the planet, be they lion, lizard, amoeba, or human are all programmed at the most primitive level of the nervous system to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Pleasure is an actual requirement in the nutritive process. Our brain and digestive system are constantly scanning every eating experience to see if we have reached the requisite level of pleasure. Once we hit this sweet spot, so to speak, the brain sends out a simple signal – “Full, satisfied, pleasured and thus it’s time to stop eating. Mission accomplished.”
This system works efficiently and beautifully. But there’s one common glitch: Many of us overeat. We seek more pleasure with food, and we go past the point of our healthiest amount of food. And we think we have a willpower problem with food. Too many eaters are caught in a battle between their desire for pleasure and the natural need to keep things under control. So, if you’d like to eliminate this unnecessary and seemingly impossible-to-win war, if you’d like to get the maximum amount of pleasure from food without eating to excess, here’s the simple solution:
It may interest you to know that relaxation has a powerful metabolic value, especially when it comes to getting the pleasure you want.
The simple science of the powerful connection between pleasure, appetite and relaxation is summed up as this:
Stress de-sensitizes us to pleasure.
Any time we are anxious, in a rush, in fear, stressed, silently in self-judgment, or repeating unkind mantras to ourselves – “I’m too fat, I’m not good enough, I’m unlovable…” – we quickly shift into the physiologic stress response. Our mind instantly impacts our chemistry. And one of the key hormones of the stress response plays a vital role in pleasure suppression:
Cortisol, the major stress hormone, de-sensitizes us to pleasure.
This means that we need to eat more food in order to register the usual amount of pleasure we would receive when we eat in a relaxed way. This makes perfect evolutionary sense, because in a true fight-or-flight stress response, the body needs to be highly alert to pain and injury. Our survival may depend upon a heightened awareness of pain. When the wolves are after us, we wouldn’t want to get side- tracked looking for chocolate.
So the bottom line is this: If you want more pleasure with food, you don’t need to eat more of the ice cream. Simply breathe, relax, de-stress, enjoy, and the body will naturally derive the pleasure that it seeks. You won’t need to overeat because cortisol is blocking your pleasure receptors. Nor will you need to artificially control your appetite, or muster up your willpower reserves. Vitamin P – Pleasure, and Vitamin R – Relaxation, are two beautifully synergistic nutrients…
Can you describe what it was like the last time you relaxed enough to really enjoy your food?
The Institute for the Psychology of Eating
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