80,000-99,999 SparkPoints 88,947

Hedonic Hunger

Friday, November 08, 2013

I was listening to Nacho Mama's Podcast and the host, Margo mentioned "Hedonic Hunger." I had never heard of that, have you? Basically, it's eating for pleasure. Hedonic hunger isn't satisfied with fullness. As long as delicious foods are available, we keep eating. Hedonic hunger can be triggered by food-related cues: sight or smell of food, talking about, reading about, or even thinking about food. With all the goodies out and about for the 3+ months season of Halloween-Thanksgiving-Hannuka
h-Christmas-New-Years, there is lots of cues!

Margo suggest enjoying non-caloric dessert flavored beverages:
-Hazelnut coffee
-Vanilla or chocolate chai tea
-Celestial Seasoning holiday teas (candy cane, gingerbread, sugar cookie, pumpkin, sugar plum)
-Mio (water flavor enhancer)

Here's a link to the podcast:

Here's a link to an article:

The article suggests that hedonic hunger is seeking a dopamine response, much like drugs, sex or gambling. And that obese people have a dampened dopamine reception, and therefore seek more highly palatable foods to feel good.

I don't think you should use this as an excuse; you should still hold yourself accountable. This is just playing with an open hand. You know what cards you're dealt, now do the best you can with them.

One strategy is to limit yourself to dessert only once a week.

Example: If I see that plate of sugar cookies in the break room at work, and no one is around, and I'm not hungry, I know this is just hedonic hunger. Am I going to eat them, and count it toward my once a week dessert? Or am I going to pass, because I'm planning to have a drink on Saturday night out with the girls, and count THAT as dessert?

Another strategy is to keep your dopamine levels high with exercise. Unhook exercise from weight loss and use it as a tool to increase your energy & improve your health.


I looked at my calendar, and my hormone pills, and low & behold! my placebo pills fall right into my Thanksgiving/Hannukah vacation when I'm driving from IL to NJ and spending time with my ex & all his family. I get really anxious & hopeless with my hormones are low, so I called my doctor to ask what I can do. I told her I was depressed when my hormones are low. And she said to skip the placebos and start the next month's pills. And I said what about next month, when I go on my cruise? And she said there's no reason to have a period, just stay on a continuous hormonal dose. Oh! Happy! Day!


I put my before and after pic up on Facebook. I wasn't sure if it was a good idea, since it makes me feel so vulnerable, but after a Saturday night of vodka drinking, I said what the heck! And since then people in real life (irl) say they knew I lost weight, but didn't realize how dramatic a change it was, they're so proud of me, and asking me how I did it. I usually say I made small incremental changes to diet & exercise over a very long time. I'm at the gym almost every day now. Sometimes I was stuck. I was at a plateau for 18 months! But I never gave up.
Share This Post With Others
Member Comments About This Blog Post
    'I don't think you should use this as an excuse; you should still hold yourself accountable. This is just playing with an open hand. You know what cards you're dealt, now do the best you can with them.'

    This resonated with me the most. Great takeway.

    1687 days ago
  • CARRIE1948
    Fascinating. I guess that's why I eat nuts, even when I'm full
    1687 days ago
    I love that you put your before and after pic on Facebook. Don't hide your light!
    emoticon emoticon

    1688 days ago
    I see myself as somewhat of a hedonistic eater. I am not one to eat just to fill the tank. I'm a foodie. I like to anticipate what I will eat, plan for it, have it look good, smell good. The taste is imperative. Given unsavory food I would never overeat. And I do have that herbal tea. LOL.
    1688 days ago
    You have done fantastic - and kudos for posting the before/after shot so everyone can really see just how far you've come.

    I'm the poster-child for "hedonic" hunger (shouldn't that be hedonistic?)! It's all about the flavour, the texture, the aromas....

    Actually, though, I've found that the best way to control my eating is to "cater" to my hedonistic side, and make sure that I include punches of strong flavour in every meal. It doesn't have to be something highly caloric, or even a large amount, but I am far more likely to be satisfied with a reasonable portion if that "flavour hit" is there.

    I'm becoming the Queen of Sauces, whether it be for stir-fry, or over veggies, or over meats --- and all it takes is a Tbsp or 2 to make me feel like I've happily indulged. A really good balsamic vinegar will do in a pinch, or a wine reduction, or a mix of spices and oils, or whatever suits my mood.

    The nice thing about "hedonic" hunger is that you can teach your taste-buds to "crave" only the very best - so the day-to-day goodies just aren't good enough to crave. It's pretty darned easy to walk away from a store-bought sugar cookie when you know that you've got a super spicy pumpkin mousse planned for your snack, or to ignore the pizza at the meeting because you've got blackened shrimp with cherry merlot sauce ready for dinner.

    My dopamine receptors may be blunted, but a small punch of really strong flavour will hit my happy button much better than any attempt to over-dose on bland, boring foods.

    Thanks for the link, and kudos again on creating your happy, healthy lifestyle!
    1688 days ago
    Interesting. I've been trying to soothe my sweet tooth with herbal tea at night. It works most of the time.
    1688 days ago
    emoticon This makes a lot of sense to me. I always want something after I see it or smell it. Even if people mention it in passing. Gotta watch out for that.
    1688 days ago
  • LIS193
    You look great!
    1688 days ago
  • Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

    Log in to post a comment

    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.