We all remember the age old struggle at the dinner table as kids: you didn’t finish your spinach but somehow you have plenty of room for dessert. As it turns out this isn’t a purely psychological effect or some sort of international conspiracy of children. It’s a real phenomenon called sensory-specific satiety. Basically, your body registers that you are full when the foods presented to you no longer hold your interest or provide a novel sensation.
However, the feeling of fullness changes when presented with something new, like dessert at the end of the meal. In studies subjects were shown to eat more of dessert foods even when they were “too full” for a second serving of the main course. Sensory-specific satiety ensures that we eat a variety of foods, but it also means that most people can easily make room for dessert. In English many people refer to it as their “dessert stomach” while in Japanese, the term betsubara roughly translates to “always having room for dessert”.
Have a look in the video below to find out more about sensory-specific satiety and the reason why most of us will nearly always make room for something sweet at the end of a meal.