In­dul­gent desserts could lead to health­ier meals

The Free Press Journal - - ETCETERA -

Choos­ing a high-calo­rie in­dul­gent dessert may lead you to pick up health­ier main and side dishes, ac­cord­ing to a study. The study placed ei­ther a healthy or less healthy dessert (fresh fruit vs lemon cheese­cake) at the be­gin­ning or end of a uni­ver­sity cafe­te­ria line.

When din­ers picked the cheese­cake first, they then chose lower-calo­rie main or side dishes and ul­ti­mately con­sumed fewer calo­ries than din­ers who chose the fresh fruit first. Those ef­fects were not found when ei­ther dessert was placed at the end of the food line, re­searchers said. “We be­lieve din­ers who chose the in­dul­gent dessert first then picked health­ier main and side dishes to make up for their high-calo­rie dessert,” said Mar­tin Reimann, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of Ari­zona in the US.

“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,” Reimann said. Three ad­di­tional on­line ex­per­i­ments that mim­icked a food de­liv­ery web­site had sim­i­lar find­ings, ex­cept when par­tic­i­pants were dis­tracted be­cause they had a lot on their mind. In that case, par­tic­i­pants who chose the in­dul­gent dessert first were more likely to keep mak­ing un­healthy choices by pick­ing high-calo­rie main and side dishes, re­searchers said.

In the cafe­te­ria ex­per­i­ment, re­searchers in­ter­viewed 134 din­ers about healthy eat­ing af­ter they passed through the cafe­te­ria line. Over four days, lemon cheese­cake or fresh fruit (but not both) was placed first in the line or at the end of the line.

There also were healthy and less healthy main and side dishes. Din­ers who chose the in­dul­gent dessert first con­sumed an av­er­age of 30 per cent fewer calo­ries (in­clud­ing the dessert) than din­ers who picked the health­ier dessert first. Din­ers who chose the cheese­cake first also were twice as likely to or­der the lighter main dish than din­ers who picked the cheese­cake at the end of the line.

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