• Lydia Walker

Pleasure Pathways

Updated: Jan 14

Do you like alcohol, fried food, ice-cream, Instagram, T.V., video games, phone games, and one of my favorites: binge watching Netflix?  I’m not here to tell you how to live your life, but these are just a few examples things that stimulate our pleasure pathways.  

Our brain is made in a way where it “lights up” when exposed to certain stimuli. Many people don’t know that sugar is possibly as addictive or more than cocaine according to some experts. Ever wonder why they put sugar in your salty chips, crackers, or other things that wouldn’t normally call for sugar? Corporations have done the studies and know that you are more likely to continue to buy again if your food gives you a happy feeling, in turn, making it addictive. Salt also has this affect, although not as bad as sugar, this is why we call these foods "rich foods": high in calories, sugar, and/or salt.  Our brain recognizes these food as something special, and that is why you “crave” these foods.  I mean let’s be honest, a bowl of salt-less steamed broccoli does not seem as appetizing as say French fries and a hamburger, or a double chocolate fudge ice-cream.


​ Let me ask you this, if we went out for your favorite type of food like hamburger and French fries, but when you went to order, I said “no you have to have steamed salt-less broccoli instead of fries!“ You would literally have a “sad” moment, that is you being emotionally tied to your food, which we will talk about in my next article “Breaking Up with Food”. ​My point is we all have things that lights up our brain, and we need to be mindful of how much we indulge in these things. Except for cigarettes, and crack, I would say everything in moderation, nothing is really bad for you, but it is about finding the balance in life.  Candy isn’t bad for you unless you over do it, bread isn’t going to make you fat unless you exceed your caloric needs, and Instagram isn’t going to ruin your life as long as you aren’t spending every waking minute on it.  


​ Pleasure pathways can be created. Creating new habits is not easy, but once they are there, they will bring you pleasure.  Say for example getting into a workout routine, first, it sucks, and you brain fights the change, butafter that “21 days” of going at it, you will find yourself craving a workout.  Your body will crave the “runners high” it will crave the feeling after you sweat and detox, you will want do things.  All I’m saying is be mindful of your habits, and watch your pleasure craving, are they serving, or are they hindering you, or have you found a balance?  And I’m not talking highly functioning alcohol balance, I’m talking about a healthy lifestyle balance.


​ Do this for yourself, if you feel like your life is out of balance, see and watch what you do on a daily basis.  Are you indulging in instant gratification things? Do you see something maybe you eat too much of, do to much of? Just be mindful of yourself, literally watch, and see what are your pleasure pathways, and are they serving you?

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