Scientific Reasons Why You Always Have Room for Dessert

We all know the feeling. You just finished a big meal, and you’re stuffed. But, then someone brings out a warm, decadent dessert and somehow you have room to spare. Suddenly, all self-control is thrown out the window, and you can’t say ‘no.’ It’s just so tempting! And of course, you’re not alone here. Thus, we beg the question, what makes us crave dessert even after we’re full? 

Is Sugar Addictive?

Room for dessert macaroon

Interestingly, there is a scientific explanation for this all-too-common phenomenon. Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, says that the chemical signals produced by the stomach that tells us we are full no longer override the brain’s pleasure centers. Being that more junk food now surrounds us than ever before, the balance in our brains is disturbed. This means that even if you are already full, you will eat the dessert because you know it will make you happy. 

Plus, food can be addictive, much like drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol, because of their impact on our brain’s pleasure centers. Food items such as salty fast food, sugary pastries, and ice-cream are the easiest foods to become addicted to. 

Sensory-Specific Satiation

Another theory that explains our bodies ability to make room for dessert is sensory-specific satiation. While eating, we often become tired or bored of our food and the flavor, and it becomes less enjoyable as when we initially started eating. Thus, when new foods with different sensory qualities, like taste, texture, and appearance are introduced (i.e. dessert) we become interested in eating again. This explains why we always seem to have room for dessert even when we feel full after a meal. Partially, it is because the dessert is the only part of the meal that we haven’t tasted yet.

Prepare for Temptation

The best way to fight off the urge to consume dessert after a meal is to prepare for the temptation in advance. Dr. Volkow says, “If you know they are going to be bringing out these wonderful cakes, say to yourself I am not going to eat them. You are much more likely to not eat them than if someone just put them in front of you”. All in all, we have much more self-control when we are anticipating that tempting dessert.