How is this possible? We swear that we aren’t hungry anymore, but suddenly our appetites come back. The idea of a little something sweet opens up more room and we throw ourselves onto the dessert in question. What causes this phenomenon?
It’s a trick of the brain, once again. This phenomenon is called sensory-specific satiety, or in other words a fatigue of the brain. When you have a meal which has a single ‘texture’, the brain gets tired of it, and it is just not as excited by the flavours you are offering it.
So, the brain makes it clear that it has had enough, and it makes you believe that you are full. On the other hand, at the sight (or description) of the frosting on an éclair, a fresh strawberry tart, or the dripping salted butterscotch heart of a chocolate cake, your brain realises that in fact, ‘Yes, there’s still room.’
Know that scientists (and manufacturers) have put in the work to better understand this, using the ‘salty-sweet’ exercise and thereby discovering that it works in the other direction as well, ‘sweet-salty.’ Colour changes can also bypass specific sensory satiety, which is why a package of sweets has all those different colours.
How to control yourself
Know that you can deceive your sensory-specific satiety. You can even use it in your favour. How? By eating in small quantities, and eating slowly. If you eat a dish in small bites, the brain at one point will tell you to stop, even though you have eaten twice less than if you had thrown yourself at the meal. This news should be enough to reassure those who are trying to keep an eye on their waistline.