Monday, November 9, 2009

The Pleasure Trap

I’ve been reading “The Pleasure Trap” by Douglas Lisle and Alan Goldhamer, as part of my study material for the Nutritional Excellence Trainer exam. This is an excellent book. Dr. Fuhrman describes the concept in this post. I highly recommend this book if you want to understand why we eat the way we do, why we shouldn’t, and how you can be happier and still find pleasure by eating healthy food. They distinguish between happiness and pleasure: “Pleasure responses are the endpoints. The moods of happiness are the subtle reinforcing experiences along the way…Animals, like people, experience the moods of happiness when making progress toward worthwhile goals…”
The pleasure trap is essentially an adaptation to the pleasure inducer, usually an addictive substance that your body adapts to and then you feel normal when you get it, and sick when you don’t. The sensation of pleasure in getting your first cup of coffee is just the cessation of feeling awful right before you have it. It’s no longer an elation, but is more a cessation of pain. To recover from the pleasure trap requires the pain of withdrawal, but then you return to the feeling of normalness that you originally had before ingesting the drugs (including processed food) in the first place. Then you discover that healthy foods can give you pleasure (like pomegranates!), and a healthy lifestyle can make you happy.

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