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Chances are you’ve felt what it’s like to have an increased appetite (and make poor food choices) after consuming alcohol. A new study in the journal of Obesity theorizes that it’s not just your gut that’s causing this reaction — your brain plays a key part as well. “Alcohol exposure can increase the brain’s sensitivity to external food cues, like aromas, which can be associated with greater food consumption,” says David A. Kareken, Ph.D., senior study editor and deputy director of the neuropsychology section of the Indiana Alcohol Research Center. The aroma of food generally serves as a conditioned stimulus, explains Kareken. “People learn to associate a food’s aroma with the pleasurable sensation of the taste, which can heighten cravings.” This sensation can kick in with just a few drinks, so imbibe with caution, especially when you’re trying to keep calories in check.
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