How do we measure pleasure?

What is the price of lost pleasure?

$5.27 billion, apparently.This is the amount of pleasure that will be lost – according to US health regulators – when calorie counts are included on all fast food and restaurant chain menus. “Lost profit” might be a more accurate choice of words here since the real concern is that by transparency of nutrition information might lead people to think twice before buying certain foods. Very coy. We are obviously only hurting ourselves by taking a proactive approach to what we shovel into our bodies. If we eat less of certain foods then we will endure a life of misery (5.27 billion worth of it).

The greatest risk that comes from exposing the facts about the contents of a given food is that we may decide not to “buy” it. You’d probably be rather pleased if your teenager made such a choice – on their own accord. Clarity can – and does – lead to change, even when it comes to eating habits. Let’s say that you didn’t know – until staring straight at the truth of it – that two donuts was 600 calories and not really so nutritious. Once you DID know it, it would be hard to pretend you didn’t. And so, reluctantly at first, you might start scrambling an egg at home instead, even though you know the three minutes of post-donut bliss would – for a time – be fondly missed.

The question you would have had to consider in making such a choice is whether these three minutes of pleasure are more important than their lingering aftermath – crashing at 2pm every day, trying to lose the same 20 pounds, or the oft denied but inarguable dangerous long-term impacts of daily food habits.

Is quick pleasure synonymous with sustained contentment? This is a question we ask ourselves often, knowing the answer is no. Of course, this constant quest for quick pleasure is understandable, since our brains are wired to pursue highs – however short-lived or self-sabotaging they may be. Many harmful foods are sought after for the quick mental fix their contents provide, while cleverly masked behind healthful facades. There is no denying that a bowl of vegetables provides a lower calibre of delight than a slab of brownie. And a lower BMI, lower body fat, lower blood sugar, and less insulin.

A stroke of insight can come with age. Some people may suddenly realize that the more desirable course – while not studded with spikes of pleasure – is actually rather enjoyable and enduring. Easy even. It can keep you from endlessly chasing your tail. Deciding how and what to eat, is an art of balance. Clear information provides clarity, and the capacity to make sound choices about your daily habits. But don’t expect the food industry to support you on this venture. They would prefer you didn’t think twice. Their concern is not “you”, your “health”, or your “lost pleasure”. It is profit. Remind yourself of this.

So what do you think?