Want to learn something awesome about yourself? If you’ve ever miraculously been able to eat an entire piece of cake for dessert or gobble down a slice of pie after a giant dinner, you are actually drawing on one of our ancient human superpowers! Turns out, our sweet tooth is actually our body’s way of trying to protect us—imagine that? Here’s what’s going on.
Growing up, I was told that we had two stomachs. There was the dinner one—that’s where all the mashed potatoes and string beans went—and then there was the dessert one. Even after I’d eaten as much as I thought my little body could manage for dinner, sometimes even unable to finish my plate, I was still able to delight in whatever was for dessert.
I’ve always wondered why this was—was it just something that I did? Did I really love pie that much?
While finding out that we have two stomachs would be really fun, Dr. Barbara Rolls knows this behavior by another name: sensory specific satiety.
Basically, this is the reason that we don’t just constantly eat donuts. (Sounds like a nice existence, I know, but SSS wouldn’t let you do it.)
Dr. Rolls—today’s hero in understanding our strange human antics—is the Director of the Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behavior and a professor of Nutritional Science at Penn State. She meets up with Vox to let us all know why reaching for the cake at the end of a meal makes total evolutionary sense:
To learn more about what Dr. Rolls and her lab at Penn State are up to, check out this page on their website.
For more great content from Vox, make sure you check out their full YouTube channel!
So, did you also learn a little something about yourself?
I don’t know about you, but I’m really thankful my body has a built-in function to not let me eat a chocolate almond croissant for every single meal of the day.
It’s always a bit wacky to discover that the reason you do something is simply because you are a human, isn’t it? But really, we’re just animals trying to survive in this world like all the others. And one of our greatest strengths has always been our ability to question. “Why do I always have room for dessert?” is a great one. “What is my skeleton?” or “Am I seeing the world the same as you?” can take you to even more interesting places!
If we can find beauty and wonder in a giant shrimp or a creature that rolls dung around its entire life, who’s to say there isn’t endless wonder to discover inside ourselves?
I’m suppressing my urge to quote John Mayer, but it’s true, my dear reader, your body is full of wonder. Not sure you believe me? Just look at this:
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- Vox. “Why You Always Seem to Have Room for Dessert.” YouTube, 28 Nov. 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTtfqECMEb8&feature=emb_title. Accessed 2 Nov. 2020. ↩