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Friday, April 13, 2012

Parkinson's Disease and My Sweet Tooth

I read a Tweet from the Michael J Fox Foundation on Friday, April 6, 2012.  It said:

Interesting associations found w/  from , "sweet tooth," loss of smell cc:   

Since they had cc'd it to my attention, I read the article right then.  

Guess what?

It turns out the folks at 23andme (a genetic testing company looking for bio-markers for Parkinson's Disease) found some surprising associations. One of them was a tendency to develop a sweet tooth after Parkinson's Disease diagnosis.  
Angel food with strawberries
The story piqued my interest and I began thinking about my own sweet tooth. 
Lemon meringue pies
I was a strange child.  I did not like sweets.  My parents and my siblings all loved sweets. I used to joke that by the time I was born, all the sweet tooth genes were gone.  When we bounded in the door after school, the others grabbed a handful of cookies and I grabbed a chunk of cheese.  This made my birthday celebrations tricky for my Mother, who was an exceptional baker.  I did not like cake or pie and I really didn't even care for ice cream, so Mom would improvise. Candles in cubes of cheese, in slices of apple, sticking out of the bowl of mashed potatoes or my favorite memory: She made a fancy jello ring, only it didn't quite set firm enough and the candles slowly fell over the sides on the way to the table. 

My lack of interest in sweets continued into adulthood, I only ate a bite or two of my own wedding cake and I still prefer cheese.  
Our wedding cake
In the last couple of years, things have changed.  I find myself coming back from the buffet with desserts on my plate instead of fruit and salad.  Unless it's chocolate, which I still don't like, I will eat birthday cake with ice cream at parties.  I've begun to eagerly look forward to my neighbors making holiday cookies and my walking buddy Freida, hasn't made one dessert yet that I didn't want a second piece.  
Pineapple upside down cake
What is going on with me?  
Has my sweet tooth gene finally awakened? 
Bev and a cake
Apparently not, apparently I can blame it all on Parkinson's.  Yes, it's all Parkinson's fault.
Pumpkin cake

Now, I have a question for the researchers. My sweet tooth only started AFTER I started taking medications for the Parkinson's. I had no sweet tooth for the 8+ years that I was searching for a diagnosis. So, is the sweet tooth caused by the Parkinson's or just another strange side effect of the medications we take?
Cherry cheesecake
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Thank you for reading this story, I hope you enjoyed it. This is just one of a hundred stories in my book, Parkinson's Humor - Funny Stories about My Life with Parkinson's Disease. Please consider purchasing a copy from Amazon or your favorite online book seller. Thank you and have a Happy Parkie Day!


  1. I find myself eating less sweets. Even lost some weight after going on the Parkinson's Medications. I have always been a snack person and I thought it was from from taking the medications an hour before or two hours after a meal. Go figure, right? :-)

  2. I've had a sweet tooth since I was born, I think. 23andme said I didn't have a high likelihood of developing one. They did say I had a higher than normal chance of develping a heroin addiction! And that despite my eastern European background on both sides, I'm genetically similar to someone who is Japanese, Chinese or Nigerian!

  3. The first year after diagnosis, ALL I could keep down was cookies. Perhaps this was related?

  4. I have really developed a major sweet tooth.

  5. Now I am hungry:) My dad since years ago diagnosed it is a bakery in the house- which is ok with me;) Sherri

  6. Oh god yes! Never had cravings for candy before my PD, i think it could be the uneven levels of dopamine in combo with ldopa?
    Patrik via Twitter

  7. I have always liked sweets and maybe a slight increase since diagnoses. I think for me it comes more from being lonely and fatigued. It's easier to grab a sweet then cook something. Lol. Having said that I have lost nearly 40lbs since last year. Maybe it's the chocolate diet
    Jeff via Facebook

  8. I don't think it's Parkinsons, I think it's the medication, after my last meds including a sleeping tablet I crave chocolate. It's amusing really I eat snacks I used to buy for grandchildren

  9. Cookies seem to be my weakness now. I can eat a box of thin mints and not think twice about it. I never used to care for sweets. I guess one positive aspect of the tremors is shaking the calories away

  10. I have to agree with Theresa! Thank God I have someone to identify with! I have never been a huge dessert or sweet person however now I can & have downed an entire box of girl scout thin mints without hesitation. I figured it was a side effect of the mirapex. I live within walking distance to a Pepperidge Farm outlet store & their cookies are the best! Maybe its an ocd thing but thankfully I have always been thin & when the PD signs began or should I say accelerated, I lost about 14 lbs. I am 5 ft 6 ^ only weigh in at about 110. I blame it on the tremors. If the PD doesn't kill me, the cholesterol will!.

  11. I've lost 25 lbs. in the last year since my diagnosis. I like that but miss the "wow" factor of food.