Monday, July 6, 2009

So that high I've written about?

Until last night, part of me still didn't accept the ramifications. Part of me was holding on to the notion that it wasn't really physiological or biochemical, that I could somehow make it stop on my own if I just tried.

How reasonable would it be for an alcoholic to believe she could quit drinking if only she'd stop imagining that being drunk felt so good*?

Exactly.

In The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite, Dr. Kessler writes of "the body's reward system". The reward system motivates us to pursue things that are pleasurable but that also ensure our survival and the survival of the species, sex and food being two biggies.

Even the anticipation of reward is enough to encourage us to pursue the reward, he says.

Powerful biological forces are at play that make us want something enough to pursue it and then make us feel momentarily better once we obtain it.


So when my body needs food, the reward system kicks in to make my mind anticipate the satisfaction - the pleasure - I'll get from eating, in turn motivating me to pursue that food.

The pleasure we get from eating - even the anticipation of that pleasure - are hard-wired within us. Biology driving will.

Makes sense. But how does that explain my cravings for McDonald's french fries with extra salt? That's not exactly nourishing. Surely my body doesn't want me filling it with that?

Here's the kicker:

It is possible to activate the brain's reward centers by artificially stimulating them....


Can you guess where this is going?

Stay tuned.





*In the short term, I mean. In the long run, drinking too much/too feels at least as guilt-inducing, at least as dangerous, at least as out-of-control as over-eating.

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