To insure an adequate supply of nutrients, omnivores choose among available food sources. This process is exemplified by the well-characterized innate aversion of omnivores to otherwise nutritious foods of imbalanced amino acid content. We report that brain-specific inactivation of GCN2, a ubiquitously expressed protein kinase that phosphorylates translation initiation factor 2 alpha (eIF2alpha) in response to intracellular amino acid deficiency, impairs this aversive response. GCN2 inactivation also diminishes phosphorylated eIF2alpha levels in the mouse anterior piriform cortex following consumption of an imbalanced meal. An ancient intracellular signal transduction pathway responsive to amino acid deficiency thus affects feeding behavior by activating a neuronal circuit that biases consumption against imbalanced food sources.