Friday, March 24, 2023

Is dessert before dinner good for your health?

Indulging in something sweet before your meal, promotes a positive mindset, lowers calorie intake and improves digestion.

“Khaane ke baad kuch meetha ho jaye” has been the ideal way of finishing a meal. An indulgent treat such as gulab jamun, ice cream, cakes and pastries… are often used as a reward system for fussy eaters – be it children, adults, or someone elderly. Although, there are many people who like to dig into their dessert before their meal – turns out it is a good thing.

Indulgent dessert before meal reduces calorie intake

According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied found that indulging in dessert first leads to healthier eating overall. Four experiments were conducted which proved that the effectiveness of going for dessert first helps in overall caloric intake.

The first experiment was conducted in a cafeteria where each participant was offered a different dessert option (healthy vs. indulgent) over four days to study the total caloric intake.

Participants had two options to pick from – fresh fruit (healthy option) or a lemon cheesecake (indulgent option) as their dessert.

Similarly for the main course they had to choose either fried fish with tartar sauce and fries (indulgent option) or grilled chicken fajitas with a small green salad (healthy option).

Day 1: Participants were offered a cheesecake first before their main course.

Day 2: Participants were offered fresh fruit before their main course.

Day 3: Participants were offered fresh fruit after their main course.

Day 4: Participants were offered a cheesecake after their main course.

Results of the experiment: Almost 70% of the time participants chose the healthier main course when the dessert was offered first.

When the dessert was offered later only 30% of the time participants chose a healthier main course.

45% of the time participants went for a healthier main course when they chose fruit first.

Overall participants who chose the cheesecake first consumed 250 fewer calories than those who chose cheesecake after the main course.

Subsequent experiments were done online in a similar manner. The results remained similar to the cafeteria experiment. Thus concluding, eating something indulgent first has an influence over your main course.

Co-author of the study Martin Reimann – an assistant professor at the University of Arizona said, “If we choose something healthy first, then this gives us a license to choose something bigger later. However, if you turn it around and choose something heavier early on, then this license is already expired”.

This experiment thus concludes – when you choose an indulgent dessert first such as a cheesecake you are most likely to balance it out by eating a healthy meal.


It’s good for your mental health

Having a dessert before your meal will boost up your happy hormones. You will enjoy every bite mindfully. Also, it will help you be mindful about your food choices and portion during the main course.

For people who like to stick to a routine or a certain pattern, indulging away will put you outside your comfort zone. However, it will be a good change because it’s dessert! It will help you widen your perspective and remind you that it’s ok to take unconventional paths once in a while. Your mindset will beam with positivity.

 “Life is short and unpredictable. Eat the dessert first”Helen Keller


It’s good for your dental health

Eating a decadent dessert before your main course reduces tooth decay and other dental conditions. Every time you eat something sweet there’s sugar residual in your mouth.

However, when you eat your food after dessert it scours away the sugar hiding behind the crevices. This helps lower the amount of sugar left behind in the mouth.


Desserts can be healthy

Indulging in a piece of decadent chocolate cake is good once in a while. But what kind of desserts can you enjoy before your meal to satiate your sweet buds?


  • Strawberries dipped in dark chocolate 

Since its winter strawberries are easily available in the market. You can switch it with any seasonal fruit and come up with your combination of fruit/berries dipped in dark chocolate.

All you need to do is melt some good quality dark chocolate – you can use the microwave or a double boiler. Dip the fruit and let it set. You can also refrigerate it.


  • Gajar ja halwa aka carrot pudding

Winters are not complete unless you have some gajar ka halwa. Every home has their version of gajar ka halwa. This sweet dish is all about warmth, nutrition and it satisfies the sweet tooth.

The easiest way to prepare is roast grated carrot in ghee till it softens. Add milk and sugar to it (you can also use sugar free). Cook it till the milk evaporates. Sprinkle some nuts and your vibrant sweet dish is ready.


  • Til gud ladoo aka sesame ladoos

Call it a winter snack that is loaded with nutrients and health benefits. Sesame has properties that promote heart health and regulate blood pressure.

Mix some roasted white/black sesame seeds with melted jaggery and roll it into balls. Use it as a snack or something sweet before your meal.


  • One or two gulab jamun

The most loved dessert in India. If gulab jamun is your kind of dessert then you can enjoy one or two gulab jamuns guilt free. Anything in moderation is good for your health. And treating yourself occasionally with your favourite dessert is the right way to start your meal.


  • Black bean brownies

The vegan dessert! Black beans make for the perfect ingredient to make some nutritious and delicious brownies. Black beans are creamy in texture with a mild flavour. When the texture of the beans combines with cocoa powder it tastes like chocolate.

You can find the recipe here.


What does Ayurveda say?

To end your meal with something sweet is not what ayurveda agrees with, instead, it says to end your meal with something spicy. A dessert after a meal slows down digestion. According to ayurveda any indulgent food – rich in sugar is nothing but empty calories that suppresses the digestive acid. This could result in acid reflux, bloating, indigestion and gas.

However, beginning your meal with something sweet increases salivation. This helps promote digestive secretion. Hence, dessert before meals could help you improve digestion.

Everyone may not have a sweet tooth, but there’s always that one dessert that brings out the inner child in you. It is good to have something sweet every now and then (in moderation). It evokes positive emotions. It helps uplift your mood. So next time whenever you crave some desserts perhaps call for it before your meal.

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