Illustrated by Emily Kowzan.
It doesn't have to be "that time of the month" to have a craving. And, while we sometimes feel as though we can eat everything in sight, a new study reported by The New York Times Well blog suggests that it's sugar — not fat — that makes our tummies rumble with hunger.
To help prove this theory, the brain activity of more than 100 high school students was tracked while they drank chocolate-flavored milk shakes that were either high in sugar and low in fat or the other way around. Surprisingly, the more sugary a shake was, the more it "lit up pleasure centers" in the brain — even if it was low in fat, which implies that the white stuff trumps fat when it comes to stimulating our senses. More importantly, researchers also believe this reaction plays a role in compulsive eating, too, which may explain high-obesity rates. According to Dr. Stice, a senior research scientist at the Oregon Research Institute, our brain is wired to make us have a sweet tooth. “When we’re children, we prefer high sugar foods right away, but not high fat,” Stice explains. “We develop preferences for fat, but we’re basically born with a preference for sugar.”
If that news isn't giving you hope that you'll keep your hand out of the Christmas cookie jar, perhaps this will: Every time you eat sweets, you're setting your brain up for the next cycle of ice cream and cake, thanks to a blood sugar crash. Of course, breaking the circuit is easier said than done, so here's to exercising that will power muscle...starting January 1. (Well)