But how come you still crave dessert when you’ve already had an entire dinner? Research shows that there is both a psychological and a physiological explanation for this.
The psychological dessert stomach
Much can be explained by the phenomenon of sensory saturation. This means that when you have eaten a lot of food with a certain taste, you have less need to eat even more of it. You may still want to eat with a different taste.
This is mainly due to “habituation”; a stimulus is weakened if you are repeatedly exposed to it. It happens with all kinds of sensory perceptions, like feeling your clothes on your body. Not good if you were constantly aware of it. Something similar happens when you eat a lot of food with the same taste: the reward you feel becomes less and less.
If you vary during a meal, you tend to eat more than if you do not vary: up to 60% more!
Eating something with a completely different taste gives a new stimulus. Food has a gratifying effect again and therefore tastes even more delicious. Very useful from an evolutionary point of view. It ensures that you eat a varied diet and therefore get different types of nutrients. Less usefully, it can also cause you to tend to eat more if you vary during a meal than if you do not vary: up to 60% more!
Sensory satiety can also be found in the brain: an experiment in which brain scans were taken while eating chocolate showed that the orbitofrontal cortex – a region of the brain involved in processing taste – plays a special role. The more chocolate participants ate, the less brain activity was observed in the reward area when tasting chocolate.
There was more activity in the dislike section. So, not only will the taste reward decrease, but it will disappoint you as well.
A little more space in your stomach
The fullness of your stomach also determines your feeling of fullness. As soon as your tongue signals that a rewarding new taste has been tasted, your body will prepare for the arrival of these goodies. This ensures, among other things, that the wall of your stomach relaxes and that there is more space in your stomach. And this effect is even greater when there is a lot of sugar in the food. This leaves more room for your stomach when you start your dessert!
All this is useful during the holidays: you can also enjoy your uncle or aunt’s delicious ice cream after dinner. But you can also use this principle in a healthier way for the new year: if you eat healthy snacks alternately, it ensures that you will eat more healthy products. So, are you kidding yourself …
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