Why’s dessert last?

icecream - purpleIt’s  traditional, expected, and assumed that dessert comes after dinner.

Dessert is commonly the last thing we eat at night. If dessert is withheld, it’s thought of as a punishment.

No one I know routinely has dessert after breakfast or lunch.

Breakfast, lunch,  and dinner followed by dessert is the pattern our eating has taken on. But why?

The question came up after people found that taking a spoonful of honey just before going to bed resulted in a much better night’s sleep. They sleep through the night and awake feeling more rested. This effect happened only if sugar intake during the day was low and the spoonful of honey was taken on an empty stomach.

It is strange that we really like sugar even though it can destroy our health. Rice and  other starches provide us with carbs too but we don’t seek them out in the same way we do sugar. Sugars affect us differently than other carbs.

So why is dessert eaten separately and closest to when we go to sleep? Maybe because sleep is so important to maintaining good health. Our brains run on sugars that can’t be replenished for many hours while we’re asleep. So eating sweets as the last thing at night helps fuel the brain, which helps us to sleep better, which makes us healthier.

There’re other possibilities. Honey has other compounds other than the sugars and maybe those come into play.

In preagricultural times dessert would have been more likely to be fruit and only  available sometimes during the year. But in our time of plenty a spoonful of honey (on an empty stomach after not eating too many sweets during the day) seems to be a good thing and it might help explain why we eat dessert last.