In one experiment that took place at an on-campus cafeteria, they found that diners who picked a sweet dish (i.e. lemon cheesecake) before deciding on their sides and main, were more likely to make healthier choices for the rest of the meal. As a result, they ate 30 per cent fewer calories those who opted for a piece of fresh fruit instead.
“We believe diners who chose the indulgent dessert first then picked healthier main and side dishes to make up for their high-calorie dessert,” explained Dr Martin Reimann, one of the study’s lead authors. “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."
These findings shouldn’t come as a surprise: previous studies have shown that scheduling cheat meals make you far less likely to give in to random cravings if (and when) they pop up.
“People should be aware that their initial food choices and their mindset may affect the overall healthiness of their meals,” Riemann added.
The moral of the story? You can totally have your cake and eat it too –just as long as you don’t do decadence for every single meal.