[Post originally published in May 2009.]
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I eat dessert pretty much every night. (MR note: Me too!) And I think you should, too! Follow the guidelines below to enjoy sweet treats in good conscience:
- Be diligent about portions.
I advocate eating real dessert food, not a “diet” food substitute. If you want a frozen treat, don’t bother with the “no sugar added!” “zero fat!” stuff. Go for a smaller portion of the real thing. It will ultimately be more satisfying. If you think you’ll have problems controlling the portion, don’t hesitate to portion stuff out as soon as you get it home from the store. Pictured above is my small (but satisfying) portion of coconut milk coconut ice cream (170 calories per half cup) with one or two tablespoons of dark chocolate chips (50 calories per tablespoon). As a general rule, desserts should fall in the 200-300 calorie range and take the place of any other snacks you would’ve eaten in that time period.
- Redefine dessert.
Fruit is super sweet, it’s delicious, and in the right context (roasted, baked, poached, broiled, etc.), it tastes decadent. Why can’t it be dessert? Reevaluate what counts as dessert. If it’s sweet and satisfies your craving for a little palate cleanser after dinner, isn’t it dessert? Some of my favorite unconventional desserts are dried fruit with nuts or nut butter, baked apples or pears, a tiny piece of high quality dark chocolate, tea with a little soy milk creamer, etc.
- Keep it real.
Don’t let dessert be an excuse to eat processed food. The other night, I wanted to spice up my coconut milk ice cream. Rather than add some HFCS-rich flavored syrup or candy, I topped the ice cream with sliced banana, walnuts, and a few dark chocolate chips. Instant Chunky Monkey and so delish! Still, all the ingredients were very close to their natural state and even offered some nutritional value. Following these guidelines means you never have to skip dessert again. It’s a shame there’s such a stigma attached to the concept of dessert because I think having something sweet is a great way to end a meal… and it definitely doesn’t have to be detrimental to your health OR weight loss goals!
MR Note: I totally agree with everything she said…but I occasionally love M&M’s…sometimes the whole bag. On other occasions, just a few. Don’t hold out, eat what you want and then you won’t crave it!