You Want Cake? Really? I Don’t Want Cake

Eat it or not?

In a recent WSJ, there was a tantalizing headline: Eating to Live, or Living to Eat?  The story explained how there are two reactions to a delicious slice of chocolate cake being set before you. One is, well, of course, get outta the way, here I come with my fork (plunging fork into center of the cake).  The second is…well, I’ve had some chicken, and some potatoes, and so I’m full. No, I’ll pass.  It’s the dopamine that is released that we want, that pleasure chemical that makes things feel all right.

The hedonists want to eat the cake. Always.  The homeostatic system tells the stomach when to shut down the supply. So other folks listen to that, instead of that little guy saying ‘go for it, you deserve it!’  It is related to how fat you are to begin with.

Socrates, the story says, counseled ‘Thou shouldst eat to live, not live to eat!” There was a study done in which photos of cakes, pies and other sweets were shown to obese woman and regularl sized women. Just seeing the photos activated the ventral pallidum, which is the part of the brain involved with planning to do something rewarding.  Also triggered was a spot on the brain where dopamine is released. Oh boy!

‘When obese people see high calorie foods, a widespread network of brain areas involved in reward, attention, emotion, memory and motor planning is activated, and all the areas talk to each other, making it hard for them to resist,” said a Columbia psychiatrist.

In the non-obese, the homostatic mechanisms are functioning and controlling this region of the brain. The obese got signals to go for the high calorie food that the other group did not.