Living well means striking a balance between good health and making a little room for indulgences that may not be so healthy for you. Desserts have somehow become taboo – you may want to eat them, but think you shouldn’t because they’re unhealthy and may make you gain weight. However, think about this: if you constantly deny yourself a little pleasure, you may end up sabotaging your healthy eating habits in the process. The trick is to look at desserts in a different view. They don’t always have to be high in fat and calories, nor do they have to come in gargantuan portions. Moderation is the key to enjoying something sweet after your meal.
Here are some wise dessert choices and simple substitutions you can make so that you don’t have to feel guilty about including desserts into your meals.
Poached, pureed, grilled or served fresh, fruit desserts can satisfy and complete any meal in a light and refreshing way. Not only are they low in fat and calories, but they also provide you with many healthy nutrients as well. Produce is in abundance in the summertime and there are so many types of fruits to choose from. Each week buy a new fruit to try after dinner. You can also take an outing to a local farmer’s market or a pick-your-own farm.
When the weather is hot, ice cream usually comes to mind. Each scoop of premium vanilla ice cream, however, packs a wallop: 282 calories with 18 grams of fat. Of course, there are other ways to get that cool refreshing feeling without all the fat.
Choose lower-fat ice creams, frozen yogurts, or sorbets. Enjoy a frozen 100% fruit juice bar or make your own popsicles using 100% fruit juices.
Opt for desserts that will provide you with more nutrients than just fat and calories. A smoothie made with low-fat yogurt, skim milk, a selection of fruit and ice blended together is a great way to satisfy your need for a cool treat while providing you with a variety of vitamins and minerals as well.
You can have your cake and eat it too as long as you do it in a nutritious way. Desserts can fit into a healthy way of eating when they are made with ingredients that are good for you.
Cakes and pies can be made healthier by using ingredients such as whole-grain flours, non-hydrogenated margarines and lower-fat milks. When baking, use oil instead of butter, shortening or lard. Substitute up to half the amount of oil in a recipe with applesauce or prune puree. Every whole egg can be replaced with two egg whites, or use egg substitute and follow the package directions. Use antioxidant-rich cocoa or dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. These simple substitutions make a big difference!
Split that piece of cheesecake with someone or take just a few bites and save the rest for another day. That way, you will not only enjoy the pleasure of what you desire to eat, but you will also only get half the amount of calories from it.
Here are some sweet tips for dessert lovers to consider if you want to make dessert a healthy part of your lifestyle:
- Eating sweet high-calorie and fatty desserts after every meal is a quick route to weight gain and associated problems such as high blood sugar and hypertension. High-calorie desserts should be a treat that you enjoy occasionally (for me; it’s a few times a month), not daily.
- There’s a big difference between ending a meal with two small cookies (100 calories) or with a slice of New York Cheesecake with caramel fudge sauce (1650 calories). Stick with a treat in the 100-200 calorie range; that will keep you satisfied but not feeling gluttonous.
- Be honest with yourself about which foods are dessert items so you can accurately monitor your intake. A donut at your morning coffee break, a calorie-laden frozen coffee drink, or a fruit smoothie count as a dessert too!
- Whole foods like nuts, fruit and oats are the foundations of healthy desserts, as long as they don’t come wrapped in too much butter and sugar.
Dessert has a place in a nutritious diet, as long as you observe the rules of moderation. As part of a healthy lifestyle, enjoying dessert once in a while is a perfectly sensible indulgence. If you crave something sweet after dinner, have fruit most often or try a healthier version of the dessert you love. Save rich desserts for special occasions.
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