Nowadays we are overwhelmed by the abundance of food choices, from light refreshing appetizers to mouth melting desserts. Why does dining out bring us joy and pleasure? Is food just a fuel? Is eating food the easiest way to get a sense of pleasure? Or is it a guilty pleasure?
Why do we have to eat?
Food is the main source of energy that the body needs for its vital functions, such as respiration or the circulation of blood on which life directly depends, to work. We need an approximate amount of energy daily; the nutrition experts calculated this amount taking in consideration many factors like, life style (sedentary or active), age, gender…etc. Without food you can’t live, and if you starve yourself; your cognition abilities will diminish.
How does the body react to the sense of pleasure?
A neurotransmitter is a chemical compound signaling form the brain, Dopamine and Serotonin are some examples. Their functions direct the mood; Dopamine is for alertness, and Serotonin is for being happy and positive. These neurotransmitters are stimulated by some actions, such as eating delicious food, listening to music, or other actions, or activities of pleasure.
Dopamine and Serotonin are found naturally in many food items, to mention some
Rich B –Vitamin food like Wholegrain products, Brown rice
Fruits like Avocado, Banana, Strawberries
Rich Protein Food like Meat , Dairy products and Soy
Leafy green vegetables
A single meal contains various components that created its final shape. Carbohydrate, Fat, Protein and water are the main components. Each one of these components has tiny molecules that give it specific shape like amino acids, glucose…etc. These molecules contain the precursors needed for the synthesis of the neurotransmitters.
When we eat food items that contain these precursors, or/and neurotransmitter themselves, the brain responds by stimulating the release of these neurotransmitters. Therefore, we feel happy.
We crave the food that make us happy, and comfortable too. But in most cases this will lead to overeating, especially if the person has an emotional disorder like depression. So…
Food is a fuel and in some cases it brings pleasure … so what do we do?
We need to stimulate these neurotransmitters (that alter our mood and make us fell calmer) by other ways rather than eating food. Listening to Music and good deep laughter are good ways.
Exercising for 30 minutes five days a week will raise dopamine secretion, a 1983 study performed at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that laboratory animals exposed to bright light had higher levels of dopamine in the retina of the eyes.
In addition, a 2007 article written by Simon N. Young of McGill University and published in “The Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience” explains that several studies have shown that exposure to bright light such as sunlight increases serotonin levels in the brain.
Finally, because of our nature as humans, we love to feel, have or sense pleasure. So be active, join community groups, break the routine, surround yourself with good company, and laugh form your hear,t and occasionally enjoy food treats!