Eating behavior can be influenced by the rewarding value of food, i.e., "liking" and "wanting." The objective of this study was to assess in normal-weight dietary restrained (NR) vs. unrestrained (NU) eaters how rewarding value of food is affected by satiety, and by eating a nonhealthy perceived, dessert-specific food vs. a healthy perceived, neutral food (chocolate mousse vs. cottage cheese). Subjects (24NR age = 25.0 +/- 8.2 years, BMI = 22.3 +/- 2.1 kg/m(2); 26NU age = 24.8 +/- 8.0 years, BMI = 22.1 +/- 1.7 kg/m(2)) came to the university twice, fasted (randomized crossover design). Per test-session "liking" and "wanting" for 72 items divided in six categories (bread, filling, drinks, dessert, sweets, stationery (placebo)) was measured, before and after consumption of chocolate mousse/cottage cheese, matched for energy content (5.6 kJ/g) and individual daily energy requirements (10%). Chocolate mousse was liked more than cottage cheese (P < 0.05). After consumption of chocolate mousse or cottage cheese, appetite and "liking" vs. placebo were decreased in NR and NU (P < 0.03), whereas "wanting" was only decreased in NR vs. NU (P </= 0.01). In NR vs. NU "wanting" was specifically decreased after chocolate mousse vs. cottage cheese; this decrease concerned especially "wanting" for bread and filling (P < 0.05). To conclude, despite similar decreases in appetite and "liking" after a meal in NR and NU, NR decrease "wanting" in contrast to NU. NR decrease "wanting" specifically for a nonhealthy perceived, "delicious," dessert-specific food vs. a nutritional identical, yet healthy perceived, slightly less "delicious," "neutral" food. A healthy perceived food may thus impose greater risk for control of energy intake in NR.