If you want to avoid packing on the pounds this holiday season, you may want to chase down that turkey with some pie or cake. And yes, eating sweets while shedding pounds may sound too good to be true, but bear with us as we explain the science behind this awesomely well-timed weight-loss study from Georgia State University.
It all has to do with memory. If you eat something sugary with your meal, you remember it much more vividly than if you skip the sweets. That’s because sugar activates the chemicals in the part of your brain responsible for laying down memories–specifically, the type of autobiographical memories that help you picture what you were doing during a particular time and place.
Remembering what you ate can curb a tendency to over-consume food. For example, if you recall you ate cheesecake at lunch, you’re less likely to scarf down an equally large slice of cake at dinner.
In fact, there have been studies showing that people who eat mindlessly–say, in front of the TV–consume more at the next meal because they simply can’t recall it in great detail. Ditto those with dementia. Since they have no memory of a meal, they’ll eat another one if you put it in front of them. And if the food has no sugar, scientists say, the act of eating isn’t imprinted as deeply in your mind because the chemicals in the brain aren’t stimulated in the same way as they are by sweeter treats.
So go ahead and indulge a little. It’s good for your brain–and your waistline!