Those second and third helpings finally wore you down, and you’re full after a satisfying meal. You’re pretty much bursting at the seams and contemplating whether or not getting up out of your chair, or literally moving at all, is even worth doing. Then, someone brings up the diet-wrecking D-word. You guessed it: dessert. Magically, you’re not feeling so full anymore. Before you know it, your stomach and mouth are both saying “Yes!” to a sweet serving of cake. It’s easy to dismiss this as some unexplainable phenomenon, but there’s actually a purely scientific reason behind why we seem to have an extra stomach reserved just for dessert.
If you’ve ever wondered why picking up that dessert menu magically makes you feel not so full anymore, we got you: the answer lies in our physiology. After a certain amount of food, our brain usually sends signals to our bodies that trigger the feeling of fullness that we’re all too familiar with. But, dessert can mess with that feeling that has us putting our forks down and declaring ourselves stuffed. As we all know, the stomach is a pretty flexible organ and can expand to fit excess food we might eat.
Here’s where sugar comes into play! It is able to trigger your stomach’s relaxation reflexes and tricks your body into feeling like it’s less full. So with just a bite, your stomach can quite literally make room for dessert! Pretty cool, huh? Plus, our brains get excited by a new taste (ie. sugar), which is why, after a big meal, your stomach can open up to ice cream, but not pasta.
Now we know that sugar can be effective in making you feel less full. A few bites of cake or ice cream won’t hurt, and can even make you feel less stuffed. But if you feel like that meal is sitting in your stomach like a rock, watch out before ordering something sweet, since there is a delay between when we’re eating and that uncomfortable feeling of fullness. It’s all about moderation!