If you're the type of person who passes on a plate of holiday cookies because you're "watching your weight" or "don't eat things shaped like people," it's time to succumb to the primal urges of the flesh: humans are wired to eat more during the winter. "We are driven by things implanted in our brain a long, long time ago," Dr. Ira Ockene, a cardiologist, tells NPR. As the weather gets colder, and the days get shorter, our caloric intake increases. The fact that another pint of Caramel Cone keeps the crushing ennui at bay another 30 minutes also helps.
Marcia Pelchat, a scientist at Monell Chemical Senses Center, thinks it's not our inner bruin but the bountiful opportunities that keep us gorging through the holidays and on into winter. We associate a taste or smell with memories—say, grandma's pecan pie or those twice-baked potatoes you ate when Dad told everyone he was a Scientologist, and we want to relive them. "The stronger the link becomes, the more likely you are to indulge in the food," Pelchat says.
The story goes on to advocate "moderation," which is all well and good, but not exactly realistic when everyone around you is tearing manically at their turkey legs and gesticulating wildly with those tiny glasses of brandy that Uncle Rooney swears gives him gas. We recommend committing the sin, and repenting later. It's the American way.