As I was looking into adipocytes, ghrelin, acylation of ghrelin by GOAT, stomach pH in the fundus, etc., I started realizing that stretching out the stomach (i.e., eating past filling "full") is simply a bad idea no matter what one eats. Because my husband, one daughter, and I are displeased with our current weights, I came up with a sustainable way to avoid overfilling our stomachs quite so much.
I observed that we always ate dinner until satiated, and then we had dessert. Which meant we were overeating every night. Trying to go without dessert won't work, for my husband bikes to and from work and would feel cheated without any dessert. (Being an adult, he would have just eaten goodies independently afterward anyway.) Everyone else would feel cheated, too, to be honest.
People frequently debate whether to eat dessert first or last. I've never heard anyone say they eat it in the middle, though.
We're now eating our evening dessert right in the middle of dinner. First we eat vegetables. Then we bring out dessert and serve small portions of it to everyone who ate vegetables (I have to motivate the toddlers to eat squash somehow...). Last we eat the main dish and other side dishes. Everyone eats some of the main dish and sides, but they eat noticeably less because main dishes don't stimulate the appetite as much as a cookie does.
It feels a little odd to be offering ice cream before the entree, but it seems to be working at decreasing overeating. I'll give an update in a month about whether we're still doing it and what results we have seen.