Win a Lodge 5-Piece Cast Iron Cookware Set Today! →

It’s a tale as old as time. You go to dinner at a restaurant and you have quite the appetite. You may manage to get through some appetizers and then the main meal comes and you dig in. But by the time you’re hitting the halfway mark, you’re starting to feel that fullness. And you don’t think you’ll finish your meal. By the time the waiter or waitress comes around, you feel you’ve hit a losing battle but you still agree to see the dessert menu.

And that is when something incredible happens – you get a second wind. The way one of my friends describes it, it’s like you have a whole other stomach just for dessert. But what brings that on? How is it possible that this can happen? Well, it turns out that there is science behind the phenomenon of people being able to fit dessert, even after a large meal.

Vox conducted an experiment in which people were given large amounts of mac and cheese to eat. They were then told to stop eating once they were full. The participants were excited about the prospect of eating mac and cheese, and once they had finished their allotted portion, they were feeling full. And that is when they were told they were going to be given another amount of mac and cheese. Most of them were feeling like they could handle more but were told to just eat what they could stomach. As one can imagine, they were not able to eat very much after their initial portion.

Photo: YouTube / Vox

But then the participants were invited back for a similar experiment. However, there was a difference during this experiment. Rather than a second helping of mac and cheese, the people were fed a bowl of vanilla ice cream. The results from this experiment were quite amazing in that the participants were able to eat a lot more of the second helping, rather than during the first experiment.

This was a result of what is known as “sensory specific satiety.” This is a phenomenon that occurs when we think we’re full, but in reality, we’re just full of what is in front of us. If given a different option, we don’t have an issue eating. That is why two bowls of mac and cheese seems impossible, but a bowl of mac and cheese followed by ice cream is completely doable.

For more in-depth information about the way sensory specific satiety works, watch the clip below:

Have you ever had this happen to you? Let us know!