≡ Food and Pleasure: The Science of Yum ➤ Brain Berry

As humans, we all want the finer things in life. That’s how we set it up. There is a little hedonist in all of us. It literally encompasses everything – the need to be loved and cared for, the desire for physical touch, the general desire for more money and things to enjoy in life, and believe it or not, the obsession with food also stems from that happy nature. . And we want all these things because they make us happy.

Food has always been essential to humans, but in the last 50 or so years we have seen the food industry change and evolve, trying to meet not only our needs but also our desire for pleasure. Today we thought we’d take a deep dive into the science behind the pleasure we get from food and how our brain processes it.

Hunger – satisfaction

This is one of the fundamental ways our brain derives pleasure from food. You feel hungry, you want food, and then you get it. The process of getting something you want is enough to bring happiness on a very basic level.

Satisfaction – pleasure

To clarify, satiety is something we feel in the act of eating. But satisfaction occurs after we stop eating. It is that feeling that keeps you from binge eating. It is a sense of completeness. Searching for food and seeking satisfaction has been an evolutionary need of ours since time immemorial. So by feeding our body to survive we are satisfying our instincts, which also makes us happy.

Vision plays a role

First, it is important to establish that pleasure from food is not only through taste, but actually involves all of our senses. The reason we derive pleasure from food is not as simple as satisfying our hunger. We process food with every sense. We also learn very quickly, so we associate things that look delicious with what actually tastes good. There’s a reason you start salivating before you even have a chance to taste a delicious treat. Vision is important when it comes to food, and it also brings us joy. This must be the reason why food blogging is so big and fast food restaurants have pictures of food on their menus.

Smell is very important

Smell plays an important role in deriving pleasure from food. Smell helps determine what tastes better than sight. We learned what sweet and spicy foods look like, what spicy smells like, and what fresh foods taste like. So when you smell food, imagine what it tastes like, and actually confirm it when you eat it—your brain feels happy, too, because you’ve satisfied that craving.

Taste and texture

Flavor and texture don’t always go hand in hand. For example, you might like the taste of oatmeal, but the texture is boring to you, so you want to mix them up and bake them like the kids on TikTok. Your brain tries to increase the pleasure of the food. You can eat it as it is, but our brains seek pleasure, so you save recipes and add bits and pieces to achieve a satisfying texture.

Your digestive system plays a big role

You see, our bodies are very complex, and our brains are even more complex. Let’s talk about the processes that precede the sensation of hunger, which we are all familiar with. You think you’re hungry, but who’s sending that signal? Is it our brain that decides when to eat and what to eat? Many times it is your digestive system that signals your hunger. Your stomach and intestines sense that food has been digested and send a signal that it wants more.

We love nutrient dense foods

There’s a reason people love fast food more than they love salads (even though sometimes we love a good salad). From an evolutionary perspective, as hunters and gatherers, food was sometimes hard to come by, so our best interest was to eat something that satisfied us and kept us full for a long time. That made us very happy. The only problem we have now is that we don’t face the problem of getting food, it’s everywhere, so we go on the fast track to pleasure, and in the case of fast food – it’s not the best for us.

Learned behaviors

Because our brain is essentially a pleasure-seeking machine, we quickly learn how to get that pleasure from food quickly. Once you know that burgers and chocolates make you happy, it’s really hard to convince yourself not to eat them all the time. Because realistically they are more satisfying than a piece of fruit or a salad. How our brain perceives pleasure has nothing to do with how healthy the food is. It only wants happiness and satisfaction.

In general, the food industry spends a lot of money figuring out how to attract more customers, how to satisfy our pleasure-seeking brains, and how to make food more appealing. But there is another side of the coin. Learning more about the complex relationship between food and pleasure may be the key to making food that still brings us the pleasure we all crave, without contributing to the world’s obesity problem.

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