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Food and Pleasure

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I was watching our bunny rabbit eating his salad. He really seems to look forward to meals and enjoys them a lot. I started wondering why eating is so pleasurable to us. I remember watching primary schoolmates as they ate lunch (yeah, I am strange) and many were bobbing their torsos back and forth or kicking their legs as they worked on that PB&J sandwich. Sure the senses of smell and taste warn us of potentially toxic and sickening meals, but why would the process need to go way beyond that? Stomach cramps remind us that it is time to eat and that should be enough. I usually wait for my stomach to remind me to eat instead of eating on some fixed schedule. Just the thought of food at that point can get the mouth watering. I started wondering if sharing meals with family and friends eventually trained our brain that the senses of smell and taste are associated with pleasure and to go ahead and release the hormones. Also isn't is just like entropy to use our behaviors during times of scarcity and turn them harmful in times of plenty?

Evolution probably wired every living thing to associate consuming food, whatever it might be, with pleasure. Those who were either indifferent to food or found it distasteful would be selected against in nature.

Food vs sex.  Extremes are illustrative.  Sex between housecats.  The male cat has to rape the female cat.  The female cat won't ovulate unless she is raped.  Raped in the sense the cat's penis is barbed ;-(  The female cat allows this because she is in a periodic altered emotional state called "in heat".  The first time she doesn't know this will be painful.  Sex between spiders.  The female spider has to decapitate the male spider.  The spider can't ejaculate unless he is decapitated.  Again, some sort of biochemical process (emotion) causes the male spider to approach the female spider (he doesn't know he is going to die).  Analogy?  People eating chili peppers ;-)

Food being pleasurable is a feedback loop, when functional, in a resource scarce environment, the animal survives but doesn't get fat (excepting bears etc who do go thru binges to survive hibernation).  Dis-functionally, humans have anorexia/bulimia.

Normally for humans, sex is pleasurable.  The connection … the strange relationship between women and chocolate.  Neurotransmitters?  Also the source of addiction.

I've been thinking about this lately, because I've recently come off of an ice cream binge.  I can binge on a lot of unnecessary foods, like potato chips without getting any particular rush.  It's binging for the sake of binging.  Ice cream is different.  When I eat ice cream, every spoonful is exciting and gratifying, while I find myself asking, "How could anything be this good?"  I'm currently off the ice cream wagon, at least for awhile, because it is obviously unhealthy in such large quantities.  Some things are extraordinarily good to eat, like Pizza.  I don't know why.  I buy a large combo from my local pizzeria and take it home.  I eat two slices and then quickly break it into two slice helpings and freeze them.  My hunger is satisfied with two slices, and I'm good for the rest of the night, but I could easily eat the whole pizza just because it's just so enjoyable, but then I'd be up half the night with indigestion.

Can't keep any carbs around!  On the other hand, for seniors, we have a change in metabolism and taste buds that is diagnostic.  My mother increasingly ate salt and sugar as she neared her end.  And because of poor nutrition, her body wasted away (that and chain smoking didn't help).


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