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Snacking is Science-Approved. Here's Why.

The big picture: Hunger is a stronger motivator than thirst, our desire for social contact and even fear.

The science: Mice were faced with some very important decisions in a very hungry state. (The researchers behind this just-published study used a technique that turns on neurons that make mice think they're starving.) Would they forgo water when thirsty to get to food? Would they choose food over socializing, even though they're notoriously social animals? And, finally, would they go into an area filled with a predator's odor to get a nibble? The answer was yes to all three, showing that "there are very few mechanisms that can overcome our need for food," says Michael Krashes, PhD, lead study author and investigator with the National Institutes of Health. Like mice, we're also social creatures, and we have the very same neurons in our brains that drove these mice to their hungry state, says Krashes, so you'd likely see similar results in humans.

What it means for you: Don't walk past dark alleys with doughnut shops at the end when you're hungry. (We kid. Kind of.) This research is all the more reason, though, to listen to your body's hunger signals to keep your food intake steady rather than skipping meals. It may also help explain why nothing else seems to matter when you're in need of food.