Customers may not have to feel guilty about eating that slice of cake, new research shows. A new study by researchers at the University of Arizona found that eating dessert before dinner can be beneficial to the diet.
In a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, people consistently chose healthier meals and consumed fewer calories when they indulged in a dessert at the beginning of their meal.
“If we choose something healthy first, then this gives us a license to choose something bigger later,” says Martin Reimann, co-author of the study. “If you turn it around and choose something heavier early on, then this license is already expired.”
By choosing a larger calorie food early in a meal, people subconsciously chose to make healthier choices with the rest of their food options. Researchers were able to determine this by placing cheesecake in a cafeteria line before and after the main meal on different days.
Nearly 70 percent of people who took the cheesecake first went on to choose a healthier main and side dish. They went on to eat about 250 fewer calories throughout the course of the meal.
While this research seems to give dessert some leeway, experts caution against thinking of it as a healthy regular option.