A study has shown that allowing yourself small treats could help you to avoid overeating later in the day.

Researchers found that sweet foods trigger a certain type of memory formation in the brain – and these memories can prevent you from scoffing more than you should come afternoon and evening.

The scientists behind the study fed rats a sugary solution, and then studied neurons in the dorsal hippocampus - the part of the brain that is critical for episodic memory.

Episodic memory is the memory of autobiographical events experienced at a particular time and place and the study showed that this part of the brain was activated by the sweet food.

ows_138212706134372

Marise Parent, professor in the Neuroscience Institute at Georgia State, said: “We think that episodic memory can be used to control eating behaviour. We make decisions like ‘I probably won’t eat now. I had a big breakfast.’ We make decisions based on our memory of what and when we ate."

This is not the first study that has looked at the relationship between eating and memory.

One London based study showed that when memory of eating a meal was disrupted – for example by people watching TV – their food portions increased during the next meal, and that people with amnesia will eat again if presented with food, even if they’ve already eaten.

However – as wonderful as it is to be able to indulge in the odd Celebration or Miniature Hero – it’s worth remembering that these little snacks only need to be small to be effective.

Studies into snacking have shown that regular and habitual grazing is likely to be linked to weight gain and obesity – so keep it ‘all things in moderation’!

Feel like you've overindulged? Here's what to do about it...