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three assorted-color petaled flowers in vase on serving tray

P for pleasure.

A joke is told of a man who on getting to heaven with his nutritionist wife slapped her really hard. It turns out there were all foods in heaven, including tarts, pies and wine, which the guy could only point at back on earth. His argument; I could have come here sooner.

Eating should be a pleasure, and this goes all the way from sight, smell and taste. A nutrition psychologist by the name Marc David argues that our enjoyment of meals, or lack of thereof, has real biochemical consequences that directly affect our metabolism and digestion.  Food in itself is a pleasure which the body demands in response to hunger. However when you eat while watching, working, doing other things, you miss out on appreciating the meal. Consequently, the brain does not register the pleasure and you may end up overeating. It takes the brain about 20minutes to realize when one is full, but when you are eating hurriedly amidst other activities, the brain takes a little longer to process.

He goes on to explain the effect that pleasure has on metabolism. He argues that when you experience pleasure in a meal, you turn on healthy digestion assimilation. However when the brain does not detect pleasure, digestion and assimilation is turned off. This results in slower metabolism and more food being stored as fat. Interestingly, even if you have your presumed pleasurable food but you are feeling all guilty about it, the brain responds as not having enjoyed it. So if you are going to have your cheat, do so with no ghosts hovering around.

Eating with more pleasure

Have you ever served a meal and you were sure the ginger was a bit too strong but no one else seemed to notice? Eat slowly people. Savour the meal. It not only helps to stimulate the taste buds, but plays an in aiding digestion.

Stop everything else and eat. This means quit eating at the desk, while watching TV or reading. I think that was the idea behind the dining room/table.

Make a food inventory. Make a list of what you should have and shouldn’t have. You can then plan to have the should-nots, every second Sunday of the month for instance, so that when you do have that fudge cake with extra chocolate topping, you completely enjoy it without messing up your entire system.

We could still have our little heaven here you know. 🙂


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Christine Nderitu

As a licensed Nutritionist and Public Health Practitioner, Christine, helps people lead healthy lifestyles through education and behaviour change practices that are simple and practical. Her area of expertise lies not just in nutrition management but in health education and promotion in HIV/AIDS, Adolescent Health, Maternal and Child Health as well as Non-Communicable Diseases, which she has engaged in for a decade. She is also a columnist in a leading local Daily. Christine has a keen interest in Non-Communicable Diseases prevention and control. She feels that the world needs more stories that celebrate and normalize desired (good) behaviour, and humanity. “We have many preventable and often manmade public health issues today.”