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Yesterday after having the most pleasurable coffee time with my friends I’ve stumbled on an article based on a new study that caught my eye and my imagination “Pleasure eating triggers body’s reward system and may stimulate overeating.”

Yikes.  Now, we need to appreciate this phenomena if we want to eat well and avoid obesity? As otherwise we’ll get used to those rewards, seek them out and, most likely, misinterpret feelings that cue us to eat.

According to the study, if you eat something, like a piece of pie or an ice-cream cone because the taste is appealing while your body does not need calories for fuel, your body emits chemical reward signals.  Uh oh!

That means that you teach your body to reward you for unnecessary eating and eventually, for overeating.

You know I often talk about kindness, self-care, and tenderness toward self as vital aspects of eating disorder recovery.  Those things just work for me, so I consider them imperative. I must ignite reward systems within myself in response to healthy pleasurable activities based on kindness, love and caring.

This afternoon I and two of my friends had coffee and some baked brie cheese with almonds and cherries (the original recipe) on my porch, played catch up, shared memories and spent a lot of time beaming at one another.When they left I had a tray in the kitchen holding a partially filled coffee pot, empty cups, empty plates and one untouched piece of baked cheese. This cheese is delectable.

I looked the appealing piece knowing that it would still be a taste delight. Here are my thoughts:

Eat for pleasure? No.  If I ate for the pleasure of cheese the sensations would affect my feelings. I would lose some of the glow of happiness that came from being with these precious friends.

Eat rather than waste?  Nonsense.  My body is not a trash bin.  Cheese either goes in the trash or in me.  I don’t save money, food or the planet by eating what I don’t need.

Eat because I’m hungry?  No.  I’m not hungry.  I will be soon, but that will be for energy needs.  I’ll wait and have a nourishing snack to fuel me for the evening.  A piece of cheese won’t do that.I discarded that bit of cheese along with the crumbs and napkins as I cleaned up after our coffee. I felt a pleasant feeling of pleasure as I continued to think and feel about my friends as I washed the cups.

The call to eat that last portion of the treat for pleasure vanished.  It was almost, now that I’ve read about the study, as if an inner reward system was ready to rise up within me when I ate it.  But when that reward flooded up all else would drown.  I would not have smiled and played with the images of those faces I love while I washed up the cups.

I really despise that every time I have to evaluate the situation in the moment, and to know when I need fuel.  But the disordered girl has to do what she has to do. Duh. Recognizing hunger is part of the challenge.  Recognizing my need for fuel is another.  Now I know we have to deal with the challenge of recognizing how eating for temporary pleasure is followed by a chemical reward and that reward may block out pleasure and joy we want to linger with.

When do you eat for pleasure?

What do you do with the left over (pleasure) food?