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Eating to Hunger and Satiety: Eating What You Want

Posted Jun 10 2012 4:35pm

I had been planning a post about how a central component of eating to hunger and satiety is eating the foods you want.  In other words, if you are hungry for carbohydrate, stuffing yourself with protein doesn't really seem like a sensible route.

Lo and behold, a new article in the Journal of Nutrition talks about this concept and takes it even further.  Here are some highlights from the article:

"A recent hypothesis proposes that, in order to avoid reward deficiency, it might be beneficial for an individual to eat what he or she likes as long as this happens in the appropriate physiologic condition (i.e., when hungry) (52). As long as meal-time food intake meets energy as well as reward homeostasis, this could prevent overeating between meals. For instance, a study showed that when the third course (i.e., the dessert) of a lunch meal consisted of a highly liked chocolate mousse, wanting for the complete “dessert category” was significantly decreased, whereas it was still present when dessert consisted of an iso-energetic cottage cheese of the sameweight and energy density but differing in taste and perception (i.e., sweetness vs. sourness, color, perception of healthiness, or characterization as a “forbidden” food) (52,53). Then, even dietary-restrained individuals run the risk of overeating “healthy” foods by avoiding the forbidden but attractive, dessert-type, really wanted foods (53)."

"The concept of “reward homeostasis” suggests that food-derived pleasure must be satisfied in order to facilitate body weight control and particularly to avoid eating in the absence of hunger."

I think this concept of "reward homeostasis" is very interesting.  It implies that the food you eat must not only produce physical satiety, but also produce some minimum level of food reward as well.  Therefore, their implied solution is not just to eat tasteless food, but to choose foods that both satisfy hunger and also satisfy cravings.

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