Eons ago, our ancestors learned that bitter, unappealing plants were simultaneously, frequently harmful to eat. Conversely, early humans quickly learned that naturally sweet foods were virtually never poisonous and therefore safe to eat. When they found one of these treats, The hedonic reward system encouraged them to keep eating. It continues to do the same thing to us today.
Wikipedia defines hedonic eating as “the drive to eat to obtain pleasure in the absence of an energy deficit.“ Basically, it is living to eat and not eating to live. It is not directly correlated with the need to provide our bodies with high quality fuel for its functions.
Certain foods are given a high hedonic rating based on there susceptibility to being over consumed. Humans are more likely to be sensitive to environmental cues to over consume foods that have a high hedonic rating.
Most people will fall into the trap of unhealthy hedonic eating if calorie dense, hyper palatable treats are to easily available. It takes a Herculean effort to avoid candy, donuts and other treats if they are within arms reach throughout your day.
The secret is to proactively plan to eat healthy. Don’t think of it as dieting. It starts at the grocery store or when you plant your garden in the spring. Fill your house and lunchbox with healthy foods. Emphasize raw vegetables and multiple organic, multicolored foods.
Even better, stop and ask yourself if you are truly hungry or if something is triggering emotional eating. If so, walk past your refrigerator and out the door and take an enjoyable walk instead.