Eating something sweet at the end of your meal is a wonderful reminder that life is about joyful experiences. Here’s how desserts can play an essential role in any healthy lifestyle.
Do you love dessert? If you’re like millions of others, you probably do! And if you’re trying hard to resist that sweet tooth, these questions may be popping into mind:
What makes a dessert healthy?
Can I have dessert when I’m trying to eat healthy?
How can I make my favorite dessert ‘healthier’?
The real truth is, the experience and pleasure that comes from eating a dessert goes way beyond what macronutrients and micronutrients are included on the dessert dish. There are indeed simple tips on how you can approach both your mindset and food swaps that can make your desserts more nutrient-dense. Here’s how.
1. A HEALTHY DESSERT IS ONE THAT DELIVERS THE FLAVORS, TEXTURES, AND AROMAS YOU LOVE.
Sweet and tart, warm and cozy, or rich and salty…what flavors do you crave when it comes to dessert? Do you prefer something smooth or liquid, something gooey, a bite that’s crunchy, or a texture that’s chewy? Does the aroma satisfy you?
A healthy dessert for you is one that delivers the flavors, textures, and aromas you love. If your dessert doesn’t satisfy the needs of your senses, it’s likely that you’ll leave the eating experience unfulfilled.
2. A HEALTHY DESSERT SATISFIES WHAT YOU REALLY WANT.
Is the dessert at hand something that you really want? If so, it might be a healthy move for you to enjoy it. But if not, then it’s best to skip. If what you’re really looking for is stress relief, extra energy to curb feeling sleepy, or emotional coping to curb tension, food may or may not provide what you’re looking for.
Are you feeling pushed to eat dessert because someone else made it, or because it’s free in the break room at work? Consider the “why” behind your selection and whether you’re eating dessert to fulfill your inner food desires or for other reasons. That’s not to say that you can never enjoy some ice cream after a stressful day — it just means that you should consider and acknowledge what the intention really is.
3. A HEALTHY DESSERT IS ONE THAT IS SAVORED.
Rather than eating it in a rapid fashion or consuming mindlessly in front of the couch, take your time to experience each morsel that goes into your mouth. For a dessert to fit the bill of “healthy”, it’s one that is eaten slowly, one where you pause to really taste the food, and one where you savor every delicious bite.
4. A HEALTHY DESSERT INCLUDES NUTRIENT-DENSE INGREDIENTS.
“Healthy” can mean healthy for the mind and spirit (all of that above, ya’ll) AND healthy for the body, such as including nutrient-dense ingredients. It’s always exciting to see desserts that are made with whole food ingredients like vegetables and fruits, whole grains instead of refined flours, and when desserts use fiber-rich foods like beans, or foods with healthy fats like nuts and seeds. I also appreciate when desserts are free from artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors.
“Healthy dessert” can also mean that refined sugar is replaced with whole food alternatives, such as from dates or other fruits. Of course, if you already have a balanced eating pattern, you are more than welcome to have an extra treat that may not be entirely nutrient-dense to satisfy an occasional craving.
Eating dessert – like eating all foods – should be satisfying for a number of factors, including your senses AND your health. What defines a “healthy dessert” for you might be different than for someone else.
It’s all about what makes the most sense for you.
Adapted from the original article.
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Tori Schmitt, MS, RDN, LD is a Ohio-based Registered Dietitian Nutritionist whose goal is to help others find positivity in their life and health. By sifting through the science and diet noise, she helps individuals enjoy the foods they love through a simple, balanced, and realistic approach. Learn more about Tori at YES! Nutrition.