We only eat what we like: Resting the Case for Pleasure
“No sane man can afford to dispense with debilitating pleasures; no ascetic can be considered reliably sane. Hitler was the archetype of the abstentious man. When the other krauts saw him drink water in the Beer Hall they should have known he was not to be trusted!” [Liebling 1959].
Pleasure is not an “extra”, or bonus bringing a little more soul to certain of our acts; it is a fundamental part of animal life. It is just as difficult to define as spirit, but nonetheless man is very conscious of it; it intervenes in relation with “need” in the regulation of major homeostatic functions [Cabanac 1985].
Pleasure is a potent drive inducing forms of behavior adapted to physiological needs, especially in the case of temperature regulation and food-and-water intake. Subjects try to maximize their pleasure –just like rats! Sensory pleasure is an incentive to useful behavior, and maximization of pleasure the answer to physiological conflicts –a.k.a. stress [Krondl et al. 1986].
As Michel Cabanac reminds us: “Each of our decisions is ultimately driven by pleasure-seeking. Pleasure is the common currency that allows us to make any, and I mean any, decision in our lives. Any decision is made according to the trend to maximize pleasure”.
But we should be vigilant: bigots are everywhere. My late friend Bernard Zacharias, trombonist of the Sidney Bechet & Claude Luter jazz band, created an imaginary principality in the heart of France; its motto was Stultitia cinget.
Since I am (mostly) dealing with nutrition, remember that misinterpretation of reliable scientific findings is a major cause of abnormal nutrition behavior. Overreaction to fearmongering pseudo-health messages may precipitate such conditions as anorexia nervosa, or nutrient toxicity. Adverse food reactions, real or more often imagined, lead to restriction in food selection. Excessive austerity in food –and wine- use negates the pleasure of eating, a useful mechanism in food choice ensuring food diversity – and pleasurable health.
It is not by chance that most peoples toast as Salute/Salud/Santé….
The complete article will shortly be available for consultation.
For references, please see the previous articles, same title We Only Eat What We Like.
Georges M. Halpern, MD, PhD
Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Sciences
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
E-mail: [email protected]