Posted on May 29, 2019, 5 p.m.
Many people like to eat dessert first because it is the best part. A new study from the American Psychological Association suggests choosing a high calorie treat at the beginning of a meal may not be as bad for you as one might think, as published in APA PsycNet.
Desserts have been declared as being inherently bad for you, but treats made from whole foods can actually be a part of a healthy diet. When made from real ingredients a dessert may even be healthier that most processed foodstuffs. This is not saying to go out and binge on desserts as sweets should be consumed in moderation, research is showing that moderation is enough to reap any benefit that desserts made from whole foods has to offer.
Lemon cheesecake and fresh fruit were used to see how different dessert options may affect dieters’ meal choices; choosing a high calorie dessert first may help dieters to eat less overall. When dessert was placed in front of a university cafeteria line, diners who selected the dessert first went on to choose healthier options for the rest of their meal, and consumed fewer overall calories than those who chose fruit. However, this was not observed when desserts were placed at the end of the cafeteria serving line. Multiple rounds of testing were conducted which yielded the same results across the board, even when options were changed to more healthy or less healthy entrees.
“We believe diners who chose the indulgent dessert first then picked healthier main and side dishes to make up for their high-calorie dessert. Diners who picked the healthier dessert may have thought they already had done a good deed for their bodies so they deserved higher-calorie food further down the cafeteria line.” says Martin Reimann, Ph.D of the University of Arizona.
Individuals experiencing high cognitive load or a lot of stress have been found to be more likely to choose high calorie main and side dishes after choosing a high calorie dessert in other studies. Reinmann suggest that people should try to be more aware of how their mindset can affect food choices.
This study demonstrates that awareness works as those who knowingly selected higher calorie desserts went on to intentionally select lower calorie side and main dishes, and it appears as if eating dessert first may help dieters cut overall calories. However it is important to keep in mind moderation is the key as cutting down overall sugar consumption is important to long term health.
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