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Hearing Happiness in Food


Freud has a basic theory that all humans seek pleasure and avoid pain. It is easily assumed this statement is true for most of our daily routine, especially when it comes to how we use food. Whether food grants us pleasure in a reward or consolation for pain we are using it as more than sustenance. So, is it possible that we are building a relationship that allows food an abuse of power? Thoughts of food can become consuming, and how we use food is developed by what we learn about food. We are bombarded with information from ad campaigns easily outnumbering the interjections of truth. Based on what we hear, what are we telling our bodies to believe about the emotional power of food?


In early 19th century France, Alfred Tomatis was the first physician to identify the crucial role the ear played in hearing and the production of sound. Alfred was born into a family of opera singers. He spent his childhood in the theater, but did not have the talent to join the family in singing. Instead of developing despair, Alfred committed himself to his education, becoming a resound ENT. His career focused on treating opera singers who could no longer reach the octaves they were once able. Through his research he was surprised to find that the singers had partially deafened themselves with their own voice. This experience led him to conclude that the voice does not produce what the ear does not hear. The ears role in hearing became integral to the diagnosis and treatment of many emotional, cognitive and developmental disorders.


Once Dr. Tomatis determined the impact of what we are hearing, he then found ways to condition and treat the defect. In the same way, our actions toward emotion and food are educated and formed by our beliefs. Which should lead us to inquire, what do we believe? The media ads have tapped into our primal longing for happiness and are feeding us a new truth for their gain.


“Come hungry, leave happy.” - Ihop

“Open happiness.” “Taste the feeling.” - Coke

“What happiness tastes like.” – McFrappe

“Making people happy through food.” – Carls Jr

“Good mood food.” – Arbys

“You deserve a break today.” “We love to see you smile.” – McDonalds


The media has essentially connected food to meet our need for happiness. It is not a stretch to say we are a culture all about feelings. Sadness, anxiety, loneliness, boredom are all presented with a solution for sale. So, when we experience any of the above we have already unintentionally memorized the jingle that can change it. The ads are visual, auditory, and unavoidable. The input we are constantly receiving is downloaded into our mind and can ultimately deafen us to the foundation of what we believe. Consequently, when we use food to satisfy these emotional needs we are conditioning ourselves into a pattern.


Dr. Tomatis also developed the Law of Retention, which concluded that exposing the ear to proper frequencies leads to permanent changes in listening and the brain. It would be virtually impossible to block out any advertisement selling us on a new method for happiness, but the volume can be muffled by consistent positive input. Knowing these are ads designed to makes sales, nothing more, is truth. None of the companies honestly care about your mental wellbeing as long as you are supporting their net worth.


So what are you listening to, the word of God or the feel good? Because the feel good is everywhere, but the truth is found in the quiet. Find time to be still and refocus. Remind yourself of the goodness of God and fulfillment in Him alone. Acknowledge the contradictions and remember the truth. The joy of the Lord (not food), is my strength.” Any other choice will leave you hungry for happiness again.


author: Bethany Brenes, MPA, LPTA

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