Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Having a Big Sweet Tooth is a Big Weight Loss Challenge

Having a big sweet tooth is a big weight loss challenge. We know that eating sweets isn't in our best interests...but they taste soooo good. We are constantly being bombarded with the message that we have to not eat sweets if we are going to lose weight successfully. So why is it that everything that tastes good seems to be bad for us?

What a lot of people don't realize is that it is completely natural for human beings to like things that taste sweet. This is something that is part of our evolutionary makeup.

You see, one of the ways people used to know if it was safe to eat foods was by taste. Things that taste sweet were generally safe to eat. It seems our bodies had a built in defense mechanism against toxic foods--that tasted bad.

We don't need to rely on taste buds for our safety in that way any more--thank goodness. And it seems that some of us prefer sweets more than others. I wondered why that might be. After all, not everyone is a chocoholic.

A study done recently by the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia links a preference for sweetness with depression and alcoholism. The study is not suggesting that because a child likes sweets they will become depressed or an alcoholic as an adult. It just showed a correlation between children who exhibit symptoms of depression and/or have an alcoholic family member and a preference for very sweet tastes.

Nothing was conclusive and raised many questions in my mind. For example, is the preference for sweet tastes something we have from birth? And if it is, is it because of the "food" we got during the gestation process? Is the preference for sweet tastes due to hormonal imbalances? Do we put our bodies into a hormonal imbalance if we eat more sweets, or do we eat more sweets because of an existing imbalance.

Interesting food for thought...none of it is to say that we are victims here. We do have control, we make the choices...but what if learning the causes for these preferences helped us to feel like we were "okay"...or if it helped parents with their kids so we had fewer obese/depressed/alcoholic children and future adults out there?

Can we have a little sweetness in our lives...without feeling destined to be fat for the rest of our lives? And can we enjoy a sweet tastes without becoming depressed? After all, a "little spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down"...

Maybe it just depends on the size of the spoon! (Save the shovel for yard work!)

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