Hedonic eating – what to do when you can’t stop eating for pleasure

What is hedonic eating?

Hedonic eating is eating purely for the pleasure of eating something that you really love the taste of. When you’re hedonic eating, you’re not hungry. In fact, when you’re eating hedonically, your body probably doesn’t need any food at all to maintain energy homeostasis. You simply feel the pull to eat your favourite foods and usually you eat a lot of it.

During hedonic eating, you don’t really care about the negative consequences – such as over fullness, lethargy, swelling, bloating and if you’re an emotional or binge eater, all the painful feelings of guilt, shame and failure. During your hedonic eating episodes, all you can think about and focus on is how good it feels to be eating and tasting.

Am I addicted to my favourite food?

When I first started exploring ‘cures’ for my disordered eating – my disordered eating was binge eating disorder, I was an emotional eater and even more so, a hedonic eater – I literally thought I was addicted to sugar. I was obsessed with anything sweet.

I researched sugar addiction and read numerous books on it and my conclusion was:

“Ok, so maybe we can be addicted to sugar and maybe not eating it ever again would stop any cravings. After all, I’ve read so many success stories in the books I had read and research I had done. But the funny thing is, unless someone locked me in a cave for 6 months to a year, no matter how hard I tried I could not give up sugar!”

So the answer to the above; “Am I addicted to my favourite food?” I believe is a no. BECAUSE, I’m no longer ‘addicted’ to my favorite foods – chocolate, ice cream, anything containing caramel – I LOVE these foods and still eat them, but I no longer eat them with the feeling of not being able to stop.

Why am I a hedonic eater?

The answer to this is multilayered and different for each individual but with my past experience and that of my clients, I believe hedonic eating comes down to the following reasons:

You are on the diet-binge cycle

Most hedonic eaters are also binge eaters. Most binge eaters are also emotional eaters. Don’t panic if you’re all 3, I was too! When we diet we deprive ourselves physically and emotionally which causes us to become obsessed with all the foods that we don’t allow ourselves to have when we’re on the dieting cycle. Usually our favourite foods.

You don’t have any other pleasures in your life apart from food

When people use to tell me “It’s never about the food” I was like 🙄 of course, it’s about the food, I love food, I want food, it’s all I think about! But I can honestly stand here now and say “It’s not about the food!” 🤣 🙃

I use to eat a kg of peanut m&ms every day just whilst I was at work…No shit! This was because I hated my job cleaning student showers and toilets and I was eating peanut m&m’s to distract me from the work. It did work I must say, which is why I kept on doing it.

I was also in a loving relationship where we weren’t as intimate as I’d have liked to be and so I found pleasure in chocolate instead. In fact, I loved eating my favourite foods more than anything else, which is why I wondered how it would ever stop.

So, what else brings you pleasure that’s not just food? Then do more of those things. Don’t replace your hedonic eating with something else because that will backfire. Just get curious about what else brings you pleasure and over time your hedonic eating will fade.

You’re a pleasure seeker and have an addictive type personality

I’ll hold my hands up and say that I’m a pleasure seeker. 🙋‍♀️ I’m an Aries so I get bored easily with everything, I’m always looking for adventure and excitement and pleasure!

When I want something, I want more of it and I want the best of it. Why have a square of chocolate and be in pleasure for a minute when you can have the whole bar and experience pleasure for 10? You feel me right?!

Do you constantly search for more? Is it never enough? I overcame this dominant personality trait by practising what I preach, exploring spirituality and learning how to be happy now. Need help with this? Reach out to me.

Brain reward system

Does something happen in our brain when we eat delicious highly palatable foods?

YES. 🤯

Does this mean we’re doomed for ever?

NO! 🎉 Not if you get help and guidance from me (or another reputable coach who actually knows what they’re talking about! Be careful though because I’ve tried everything to become a ‘normal eater’ and even coaches with the best intentions don’t know what works when it comes to feeling free around food.)

We are programmed to seek out highly palatable foods (high fat – high carbs) because we are actually hunter-gatherers. We’ve not evolved to accommodate our over-saturated food availability.

When we eat such palatable foods our brains get a dopamine hit. Dopamine makes us feel goooood. The foods taste good and because of the dopamine, it also feels good to eat. Similar to drug response.

These type of foods give us an even bigger hit of dopamine if we are restricting them, not eating enough food in general or have nothing else in life that brings us pleasure.

How to stop hedonic eating

To reduce hedonic eating to a level that you’re happy with or to stop it altogether takes time and effort. But not the type of effort that you’re thinking of. In fact, the word uncomfortable feels more appropriate to use.

Because believe it or not, avoiding, reducing or sustaining from your favourite foods (good luck with that) is not the answer to find food freedom. Working through my online program is a huge step to making peace with food and reducing hedonic eating altogether. Working with me 1:1 is the path to food freedom and joyous life in general… because remember it’s not about the food…

And I’m not just saying that this is the only way to stop hedonic eating because it requires working with me, I am saying that I’ve not found anyone else who teaches the same principles as I do. And the principles that I teach are the only ones that have worked for me and my clients, who have previously tried everything else.

So if hedonic eating is taking over your life and you’re ready to do the work necessary to find true food and body freedom and be happy from the inside out, reach out to me. I offer a free coaching call (not an intake call – there’s a difference) to see how I can help you and whether we’re a great fit to work together.


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