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Karen's Blogs

Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life.Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. 

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Why We Eat the Way We Do

Why We Eat the Way We Do

Check out “Why We Eat The Way We Do” on NPR’s Hidden Brain which runs just shy of half an hour (https://www.npr.org/2019/11/11/778266536/hungry-hungry-hippocampus-the-psychology-of-how-we-eat, accessed 11/23/19). Here’s what I learned from this entertaining and enlightening podcast. 

Psychologist Paul Rozin was being interviewed by Shankar Vedantam, host of Hidden Brain. Rozin, who has spent decades studying “the interplay between food, identity, and culture,” maintains that "Food is not just nutrition that goes in your mouth or even pleasant sensations that go with it. It connects to your whole life, and it's really a very important part of performing your culture and experiencing your culture." This is why we enjoy certain ritualized foods—from birthday cake to Christmas pudding, Hebrew Sabbath challah, and Muslim couscous—and why we have strong associations to traditional or simply familiar foods from childhood.

Two discussion points got me thinking. One was the difference between French and American eaters: Americans are focused on food as nourishment while the French view it as pleasure. Due to of the French approach to eating, they seek more enjoyment, eat more slowly and get satisfaction from food, resulting in stopping eating when pleasure wanes. Alternately, Americans, aimed at nourishment, eat quickly and miss out on savoring food. These differences aren’t news to me, but I hadn’t realized that Americans were seen as nutrition focused. You could have fooled me.

The second point of interest came from the discussion between Vedantam and Rozin on how anticipation, experience and memory influence what and how much we eat. Some people are super into anticipation. I sure was in my wild binge-eating days. I’d daydream about what I was going to eat hours (or days) beforehand, causing a flood of dopamine in my brain which reinforced the joy I anticipated. The actual experience of eating was pretty much a blur because I was shoveling food into my mouth as fast as I could and, other than the first bite or two bringing ecstasy, there wasn’t much pleasure to be found. Memory was hardly pleasure filled. Rather, it was replete with guilt, shame, remorse and self-hatred. Nothing to put in your emotional scrap book, believe me.

Now I don’t spend much time anticipating food or reminiscing about it, but I do find the actual eating experience more pleasurable because I’m present to it. I think you will find the podcast interesting brain food in your transition to “normal” eating. 

 

Best,

Karen

 

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This website is owned and operated by Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW. It contains material intended for informational and educational purposes only, and reasonable effort is made to keep its contents updated. Any material contained herein is not to be construed as the practice of clinical social work or of psychotherapy, although adherence to applicable Florida States, Rules, and Code of Ethics is observed. Material on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment for mental health issues or eating disorder problems, which should be done only through individualized therapeutic consultation. Karen R. Koenig, LCSW disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained on this website. This website contains links to other sites. The inclusion of such links does not necessarily constitute endorsement by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW who disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained in this website. Further, Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or current usefulness of the material contained in the linked sites. Users of any website must be aware of the limitation to confidentiality and privacy, and website usage does not carry any guarantee or privacy of any information contained therein.  Privacy Policy