Every year at Halloween do you find yourself eyeing off your children’s candy and wondering just how much of it you will consume once they go to bed? Do you ever sit down and keep eating Halloween candy even though you’re sick to death of the sight of it? Well, it turns out there is a scientific reason behind your Halloween urges.
While many think sugar is the sole reason people keep eating Halloween candy — even the horrible stuff like that included in the Inquisitr‘s list of least favorite Halloween candy — there are two other ingredients that make people keep returning to Halloween treats.
Sugar is certainly one of the main contenders behind why you can’t stop eating Halloween candy. Science has certainly shown how sugar can be addictive as the body builds up a tolerance to it and, in turn, requires more of the substance. It can also trigger reward circuits in the brain that tricks you into thinking you need the sugary treat.
However, there are two other ingredients in Halloween candy that make you want to devour the lot.
According to Time, it is the trifecta of sugar, fat, and salt that keeps people indulging in Halloween candy. This combination has known to be an irresistible combination according to the 2013 book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.
When candy contains a blend of sugar, fat, and salt, it “really revs up the hedonic eating system,” according to Rachele Pojednic, an assistant professor of nutrition at Simmons University.
This response is a result of the “well-documented phenomenon of eating for pleasure rather than physical need,” according to Time.
Studies have shown that sugar and fat, in particular, can create pathways in the brain that makes a person want to eat for pleasure rather than nutrition. In fact, this response can be so strong that it overrides the body’s normal nutritional response to food.
“That’s why when you walk into the office and you see that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, your mouth literally starts watering,” Pojednic explains. “You will automatically start salivating because you have this memory of pleasure, so that cycle sort of continues.”
In addition to the pleasure versus nutrition obstacle, Halloween also has pleasant and nostalgic associations that can also encourage you to binge on candy at this time of year.
“We’ve all had experiences with food where there’s this really wonderful memory around it, and we have this pleasure memory that goes along with it,” Pojednic explains. “It’s not just pleasure from the taste or the smell of it, but also the situation that goes along with it.”
So, how do you avoid overindulgence at Halloween?
Some evidence suggests that constantly eating healthy food can rewire the brain against the sugar/salt/fat trifecta. However, if you have arrived at Halloween and have not been maintaining a healthy lifestyle, the suggestion is to ask yourself if you really need the candy presented in front of you.
If that doesn’t work, you still have the lead up to Halloween 2019 to try out the healthy eating option.