Are you the type of person that just has to have a little something sweet before bed? Or no matter how full you are after a delicious meal at a restaurant you just can’t say no to dessert? Because same. And just to put a number on it, 51% of Americans say they too have a sweet tooth. And, like just about everything, there is a science behind that sweet tooth of yours. Let’s take a look!
The size of that sweet tooth of yours has a lot to do with genetics. Our DNA determines what tastes we like and don’t like, virtually determining what our taste buds will be like, and if we have a lot of taste buds for sweetness, you know in the form of cupcakes, brownies, cheesecakes, then you have a sweet tooth! And if we’re getting technical, and we are, our first experience with taste happens at roughly 21 weeks. That’s right, even in the womb we begin to experience taste and start to develop taste preferences.
Another factor that determines if we have a sweet tooth or not? Our, drumroll please, environment. Do you often eat sweet things? If so, you prefer them because you’re accustomed to them. The foods we eat are also linked to memories, so, for instance, if your Grandma made the best chocolate chip cookies ever, then eating them today (though a variation because no one makes them quite like Grandma) evokes those warm and cozy memories.
This is where things get sneaky, kinda. Our sweet tooth can become “activated” simply by seeing or smelling sweet things. Have you ever walked by a fudge shop or a bakery and smelled cookies or fresh candy being made and you just can’t control yourself and just have to step in for a free sample and a little something for later? We get it. In fact, a lot of people get it because some companies and uhm, popular theme parks, carefully select aromas so visitors will stay longer, spend more, and eat more.
Studies show that another variable that affects how hard we crave sweets is our emotions. If you’ve ever had a bad day then you fully get this because how do most of us handle a bad day, extra stress, bad news, or a rough break-up? By queuing up Netflix and tearing into a whole cheesecake or pint of ice cream. Our emotions heavily influence what we crave.