(WXYZ) – Researchers from Spain found links between several gene variants and certain food preferences like chocolate or salty foods.
The study included more than 800 adults whose food habits and genetic data were analyzed. Those who ate more chocolate not only had a larger waist, but were more likely to have variants of the receptor gene oxytocin, otherwise known as the “love hormone”.
Those who loved salt, their higher intake was associated with two gene variants, CREB1 and GABRA2. And greater total fat intake was linked to variants of the SLC6A2 gene.
The study only shows associations between gene variants and food preferences, it does not prove they directly affect us. Even if they did, dietary habits are more than a matter of genes. Economics, culture and environmental factors also play a role. So don’t believe you can binge-eat on chocolate or salty potato chips and then blame it all on your genes.
If you struggle with poor food choices, here are my prescriptions:
1. Learn the difference between cravings and hunger. Cravings are often desires for comfort foods and can be triggered by negative feelings.
2. Expect to experience food cravings. They’re normal and a part of everyone’s life. Try to ride them out by doing activities like walking or calling a friend to distract your attention.
3. Manage your cravings by not over-reacting to them. Write down any triggers so you can be better prepared in the future and learn from setbacks.
4. Don’t deprive yourself. It only leads to more food cravings so be sure to enjoy an occasional treat.
Knowing you carry any of these genes might be helpful in developing individual personalized dietary plans, but you don’t need to have your DNA analyzed when you see a dietician. They already ask thorough questions about food preferences and lifestyle habits to create a lasting plan right for you.
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