I’m weak for cookies

We have a familiar ritual at my house around Christmas. 

It goes a little something like this… 

Karen bakes a batch of sugar cookies, and frosts them. She leaves them on the counter, on the “special plate.” 

For guests.

Because she and I know better of course. We’re the “healthy ones.”

I walk by the cookies a few times. And every time I tell myself.

“I will not eat one.”

On the first pass I succeed. I don’t touch them.

“Nice going, Jeff.”

By the second pass I’m weaker. Maybe there’s one that’s broken, so just a piece…

After lunch I go by the cookie plate again. And maybe this time I will take a whole one.

I think you’re getting the picture. 

I’ve got a craving for sweets. And I wish I had to fight it just during the holidays.

The truth is these cravings can dog me year-round. 

Maybe you can relate.

A while ago I stumbled on an article that shed some light on cravings. I found it pretty surprising.

If you’ve got a sweet tooth like me, this hunger for cookies may start in our livers.  

Researchers found a particular hormone in animals’ livers that suppresses sweet intake.

This hormone, FGF21, reduced the appetite for sweets. 

Danish scientists decided to take this research a step further and study the effect in humans.

What they found is that levels of FGF21 were 50% higher after fasting in people who don’t have much of a sweet tooth. 

This could mean that people with higher levels of FGF21 in their livers wouldn’t reach for a cookie, even on an empty stomach. 

It’s like this hormone blocks sweet cravings.

So are sugar cravings driven by hormones? 

A lot of women would probably answer “of course!”  to this question. But I can say that as a man with a sweet tooth, the idea is something of a revelation.

Maybe a hormone IS driving my sweet tooth.

Now, this doesn’t let me off the hook of course. Eating a bunch of cookies and saying “well, it’s not my fault” isn’t going to keep me healthy.

I’ll still work on moderation this holiday season, and into the New Year. 

And here are a few strategies that help cut down on my cookie consumption, and maybe they’ll work for you too:

  • Stay hydrated. I can feel cravings start when I’m not drinking enough water. A couple of big glasses can often cut the cravings before they take over.
  • Do something active instead. A brisk walk or even a quick 5-10 minute workout can release the endorphins we’re looking for with a sugar high.
  • Try a spoonful of peanut or nut butter. The salty & fat content helps curb cravings and really satisfies.
  • And be sure to live a little. It’s ok to have a cookie, or piece of pie. But save this “treat permission” for things that are truly special. That store-bought cookie with all the preservatives… take a pass. 

Of course, as I write this I can hear Karen in the kitchen. Is she baking cookies again?

Enjoy your Christmas Eve! 

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