Now that you’ve eaten a well-balanced, savory dinner, it’s time to choose that little something sweet: dessert! Sadly, that can be a big hurdle to navigate, especially when you’re trying to eat healthier for weight loss. Most desserts are designed to hit your your “bliss point,” a term coined by food scientists as the spot where food produces the greatest amount of crave. Translation: it’s hard to stop eating once you start. Chomp into an ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookie, and you’ll know what we’re talking about. As tasty as they are, sweets aren’t great for your waistline. Sugar is a big culprit in America’s obesity epidemic, and the rest of the world isn’t far behind.
Despite knowing all this, you may still have trouble steering clear of sweets. They are a big cultural part of how we celebrate holidays, birthdays and big milestones. Any healthy diet should teach you how to incorporate dessert healthfully.
1. Do split dessert with a friend.
Last time we checked, a typical helping of cheesecake at Chili’s is a depressing 730 calories. That’s about 40% of most people’s daily calorie needs! If you’re going to order it, try to split dessert with a friend. Then both of you will cut empty calories and added sugar without feeling deprived.
2. Do look for fruit-based desserts.
Use dessert as a good excuse to sneak in fruit, nature’s intended candy. Better-for-you options include strawberry shortcake, apple pie, pumpkin pie and tarts. The trick here is to be careful about fruit desserts that douse the fruit in too much sugar. If you can find pies and tarts that use fresh fruit, that’s the way to go!
3. Don’t binge on the sweet stuff.
It’s about enjoyment, not overstuffing yourself. No matter how tempting it is, don’t order that second plate of pie. Sip on some water and give yourself at least 20 minutes. Ask yourself: are you truly hungry? If you are, go get yourself an apple — it’ll taste just as sweet!
4. Do slow down and savor each bite.
Assuming you’ve finished a satisfying dinner there’s no reason for you to wolf down dessert. Take the time to enjoy the creaminess and sweetness of your treat. Slow down, chat with your friend, take sips of water and put down your spoon between each bite.
5. Don’t make dessert a daily habit.
We’re not going to sugarcoat the truth. Most restaurant desserts contain more added sugar than you should be eating in a day. The American Heart Association recommends eating no more than 6 and 9 teaspoons of added sugar each day for women and men, respectively.
Thankfully there are lots of healthier dessert recipes that you can whip up at home. Here are a few of our favorites:
Apple-Cinnamon Mini Doughnuts | EatingWell
Pecan-Berry Coffee Cake | EatingWell
Chocolate, Almond & Jam Thumbprint Cookies | EatingWell
Puffed Cherry Pancake | EatingWell