Fantastic news the next time Hungover You discovers a 3 a.m. receipt for four Crunchwrap Supremes: Science says it happened not so much because of terrible decision-making and close to zero self-restraint, but because the alcohol magically made your sense of smell really awesome. Scientists at Indiana University’s medical school did a first-of-its-kind study looking at the effects that drinking has on food aroma and appetite. They found that drunken eating may be a result of an effect that alcohol has on the brain, making food smell better than it should.
“Our study found that alcohol exposure can both increase the brain’s sensitivity to external food cues, like aromas, and result in greater food consumption,” the lead researcher writes. Alcohol’s empty calories plus the 2,800-ish more often scarfed down while drinking, “can lead to energy imbalance and possibly weight gain.” (Well, duh.)
The hilarious-sounding study involved hooking subjects up to IVs of either alcohol or saline, and then seeing how everyone felt about lunch. Unsurprisingly, the ones with booze drips ate a “significantly greater” quantity on average, but the hypothalamuses in their brains also got really excited about the smell, which is saying a lot: The lunch choices were “pasta with ground beef and Italian tomato sauce” or “noodles with shredded beef and gravy.”