The Power of Pleasure

Hip Hip Hooray. It looks like there is light at the end of the tunnel. The vaccines are being rolled out. State borders are opening. It’s beginning to look like the new normal. Time to get out and enjoy oneself – and support our ailing food industry.

There is nothing wrong with indulging a little. Especially after all the lockdowns. In fact, it can be beneficial. Flavoursome foods that we like, cause a greater flow of saliva, gastric and pancreatic juices, than do bland or unpleasant flavours – making our mouths water and our stomachs register as being hungry. Good tasting food is actually easier to digest due to this reaction and can therefore be more nutritious than poor tasting food.

Studies have shown that pleasure is an important part of life and eating. Pleasure is essential to good health as it enhances immunity, and immunity is our main defence against disease. When we feel good about ourselves and are enjoying life, we are less likely to get sick. However, when we worry, are stressed and feel constantly tired, our immunity decreases and we tend to catch colds and other infections – including stray viruses – more easily. Immunity is inhibited by stress and enhanced by pleasure. Good health requires indulgence, not denial.

Food should be a pleasure, a luxury we can all afford. Luxury is being able to eat what you want, when you want it even if your self-imposed diet forbids it. It is also important to realise that good food – sheer luxury food – need not be gourmet or expensive.

You do not have to go to five-star restaurants for great food. You do not have to buy expensive cuts of meat or truffles and caviar. Good food is simple food – fresh, perfectly prepared or cooked, tasty and satisfying.

The perception that some foods are better than others because they are more expensive is also false. What makes fat cut chips cooked in beef fat and served with a high fat aioli “gourmet”, whilst McDonalds Fries are bad fast food???

Luxury food is food that pleases – comfort food that makes us feel good.

It may be simply a piece of cheese on some fresh crusty bread

  • A hot tasty meat pie
  • Or a perfectly grilled steak with a simple salad
  • A freshly shucked oyster or peeled prawn
  • A ripe peach and a glass of wine
  • A fresh cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate

Luxury food – good food – should be the focus of attention, eaten slowly, in good company and enjoyed – not gulped down on the run or in some noisy shopping centre.

Poor food can be expensive – and is often hurried, gulped down in a frenzy between other activities and not enjoyed

Good health requires indulgence not denial. But indulgence is not greed. Indulgence does not mean gluttony. Gluttony leads to obesity and other diet related diseases and is not much fun. It dulls our senses and reduces pleasure, leading to worry, stress and guilt. However, embracing indulgence, enjoying the foods we like, in small amounts, substituting quality for quantity, can lead to good health.

It is important to isolate those things that give you pleasure and enjoy them – not too much though. Not just because of your health, but because otherwise they become commonplace and loose that sense of luxury and being special – that’s why you should not have hot cross buns everyday!

Food should be savoured, relished, enjoyed and eaten at leisure. Take time out to have a meal – even if it is a snack alone. Sit down somewhere comfortable. Turn off the electronics. Eat slowly. Eat mindfully. Savour the moment. See and taste what you are eating! And enjoy.

Now that’s food for pleasure.

Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV from Pexels

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