Why are you never too full for dessert?


Even after a very large meal, like those typical of weddings or Christmas, despite feeling full, it is difficult to give up dessert.

Despite the stomach being saturated with food, in fact, there always seems to be room for dessert.

Gluttony, and the fact that practically everyone likes sweets, is obviously the main cause of this but they would exist also other psychological and physical mechanisms causing the phenomenon.

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The theory of sensory-specific satiety

To try to understand why we are rarely able to resist a post-meal dessert, even when it was very heavy, we carried out several studiessome reliable and some less so.

According to researchers from the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Pennsylvania State University, in some cases the reason that makes us believe we still have some room in our stomach for dessert is the fact that that space really is thereeven if you have the feeling that the capacity has reached the limit.

This mechanism, which makes you want to eat dessert even though you are no longer hungry, is called “sensory specific satiety” and was first introduced in 1956 by the French neurophysiologist Jacques Le Magnen.

This is a selective limit that the human body uses to get people not to always eat the same foods but to vary, so as to have a more balanced diet.

Although it was theorized in the 1950s, it was explained in detail only in 1981 by the researcher Barbara Rolls, after carrying out research with a team of scholars on a group of volunteers.

The people involved were called to evaluate the satisfaction of eight different foods by tasting a little of each, at different times.

The first was the most palatable and was given to them for lunch in large quantities, so that they ate until they felt full. Next they were given all the others and then they were asked to express a judgment on each one.

After a break, shortly after the meal, the volunteers were made to taste the eight foods again and asked to rate them. What emerged in this phase was a decline in liking for what was eaten for lunchcompared to the other seven and this has pushed researchers to deduce that you can eat one food until you feel like you're bursting, but still not give up others if they are available.

What leads to no longer wanting to eat is often the decline in pleasure that a food gives, which is specific to that and not transversal. So if the appetite for one food decreases it does not mean that the appetite for another with completely different characteristics will not remain high.

The fact that there is always room for dessert, therefore, depends on the radical difference of this compared to previous courses.

What another study says

This theory was also confirmed by subsequent research, which added a further piece, discovering that the food, continuing with the meal, would not only become less tasty for the eater, but would also take on a less attractive appearance and smell. This often pushes you to stop eating but resume with gusto when it's time for dessert.

This mechanism is also the basis of the fact that when faced with a buffet with many variations of food we are often led to eat more than normal.

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