Live to Eat and be Hedonic

MRI Image of a Hedonic Brain exhibiting "Food Pleasure"

How the Hedonic Bran exhibits "Food Pleasure"


For most it’s a  question as old as Socrates, but in the culinary world it’s stale because the answer is a given: Live to Eat.

Melinda Block of The Wall Street Journal Health Journal on July 13,2010 added some insight in her interesting article on obesity research. The article was entitled “Eating to Live or Living to Eat” . Melinda does an admirable job of describing cutting edge obesity research conducted with test subjects and MRI imaging. If you are interested in the specifics of the research but are not an MD, or leaning that direction, she puts the medical jargon and concepts into chunks even a layman (or a cook) can understand. Just follow the link above to read her work.

 For the synopis continue here. In general, MRI studies confirm what most of us inherently feel; that eating past our bodies full signal is frequently co-incident with obesity and that obese people have a brain chemistry  which exhibit stronger “reward” reactions to sweet laden or fatty foods than do those of the healthy weight population.  

 Those who live to eat for pleasure, like myself, are classified as Hedonic Eaters. Those who eat to survive are labeled Homeostatic Eaters. According to Susan Carnell, a research psychiatrist at the New York Obesity Research Center at Columbia University, when hedonic eaters, “see high-calorie  foods, a wide-spread network of brain areas involved in reward, attention, emotion, memory and motor planning is activated and all the areas talk to each other, making it hard to resist.” The reaction does not occur when the hedonic subject hears or sees lower calorie foods like Zucchini. The hedonic eaters also had the strong reward reactions whether they were hungry or not. On the MRI images, the homeostatic eaters had much less forceful reactions to the high calorie foods, and then only if they were hungry.

 The findings suggest that obesity in hedonic eaters may be linked to dysfunction in the homeostatic systems that signal fullness and thoughts of pleasure at further consumption. Because of this, the obese are likely more susceptible to external eating cues.  Personlly, I am fghting a touch and go battle that involves, will power, lean times and fat times, and the gym.

At Smart Kitchen, we promote a healthy enjoyment of good foods and encourage our members and the public at large (no pun intended) to eat reasonably in content, frequency and portion sizes. But we also encourage you to enjoy your nutrition needs to the fullest and see them as an opportunity to enjoy eating the freshest and tastiest meals possible. We celebrate good food and good nutrition by teaching students to have both. It is what we call smart cooking.

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