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Hard time resisting holiday treats? Your brain may be working against you

(Source: iStock)

Even just the smell of food can trigger a chemical in your brain that makes it hard to resist

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Whether it’s chocolate, eggnog, or even fruitcake, the holiday season is full of temptations. But, if you find yourself overindulging — it might not just be a lack of willpower. Something in your body actually could be working against you.

It’s called Ghrelin, and it’s know as the hunger hormone. It’s produced in the stomach when you see something that looks particularly appealing, and sends a signal to the brain that makes it harder to resist.

Research out of McGill found even smells can trigger Ghrelin, sending your brain a signal too powerful to resist.

Dr. Alian Dragher with the university says once you start to indulge, even more of the hormone is made.

“In animals and in humans, when you show food cues or food odours, or tasty foods, it actually promotes the release of Ghrelin, which then goes and increases appetite even more,” he says.

Stress can also trigger the hormone.

“This hormone, Ghrelin, which makes people hungry is related first to stress. It’s both increased during times of stress, and it itself is a stress hormone,” he says. “It makes you more psychologically stressed.”

He says a good way to manage the power of Ghrelin is to exercise.