You’ve heard of gambling addictions, video game addictions, and of course, drug addictions. But did you ever stop to wonder if perhaps you might have an addiction to food? Hedonic hunger isn’t physical hunger at all, but rather a psychological hunger. You might have hedonic hunger if you crave certain foods when your body isn’t even hungry. Quite often, when a person is stressed out or is having a bad day at work, she’ll find herself daydreaming of the chocolate bar in the vending machine, even if her body doesn’t actually need the calories. This is hedonic hunger, or eating for pleasure rather than out of need.
Scientists at the University of Naples have studied the hedonic hunger phenomenon and found that pleasure eating triggers the “reward” area of the brain. Specifically, ghrelin, a hormone, and 2-AG, a chemical, are triggered during this time. This leads to overeating, and it’s probably why you find yourself polishing off the entire plate of pasta even after you’re full.
So if your brain is telling you to eat another piece of chocolate cake, how do you overcome it? Dr. Gullo advises his clients to remember that thin begins in the supermarket. If it isn’t good for you, don’t buy it in the first place – just keep it out of your home. (Most overeating occurs at home, not in restaurants.) And never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry. It’s also essential to understand yourself and your impulses. If you’re a finisher (that is, you absolutely must finish your entire plate), ask for half servings. And remember that changing your waistline begins with changing your mindset. Your health and quality of life are much more important than a piece of cake.