- Making desirable foods like desserts “off-limits” from your diet can make you feel restricted and more likely to overeat sweets. If you crave sweets, a daily dessert can be part of a balanced diet for weight management.
- Focus on minimally processed whole-food dessert ingredients rich in fiber, protein, and nutrients. Examples include nuts, bananas, dark chocolate, and popcorn.
- Eating desserts in a mindful way can help you enjoy your food, feel satisfied, and minimize overeating.
If you are on a weight management journey, you may wonder if you can eat dessert every day and still lose weight. Dessert is traditionally thought of as “bad” and “unhealthy,” but research suggests that restricting your favorite foods can actually backfire when it comes to weight management.
You can enjoy sweets while meeting your health goals by practicing mindful eating strategies and including nutrient-dense dessert ingredients. Continue reading to learn more tips on nutritious, satisfying desserts for weight management.
Can You Eat Dessert Every Day and Still Lose Weight?
Though you may have heard otherwise, dessert can fit in the context of a balanced diet for weight management. Research shows that people with a flexible diet who focus on specific health-promoting goals tend to be more successful in their weight management journey.
On the other hand, being rigid or “black or white” around eating is associated with difficulty managing weight. This looks like labeling certain foods as “bad” or “off-limits” and other foods as “good.” While all foods have different nutritional values, these labels can be counterproductive to building sustainable habits.
How we perceive food can impact the success of our weight management goals in the long run. An interesting study from 2014 found that people who associated eating chocolate cake with guilt had less weight management success over 18 months than those who associated it with celebration.
Many people find themselves in an “all or nothing” cycle while attempting weight management. Restricting your favorite foods can make you feel deprived. Then, when you are around certain off-limits foods, like desserts, you may overeat or have difficulty stopping. Feelings of guilt and shame lead you right back to the start of the cycle.
Restrictive dieting can increase your risk of binge eating, so it’s important to seek help if you’re regularly feeling out of control around dessert foods. Talk to a registered dietitian with Nourish to optimize your weight management plan while preventing disordered eating.
Benefits of Healthy Dessert Options
Sometimes we may get into the habit of eating less nutritious dessert options every day. The goal is not to make these off-limits but to find variety in your dessert choices. Try including foods that are nutrient-dense but still satisfying in the rotation.
Foods that are minimally processed, have natural sweetness, and include protein can help with satiety and cravings while giving you stable energy and blood sugar levels. In addition, whole-grain foods and fiber-rich foods can also be beneficial.
Including a variety of nutritious desserts in your eating plan and allowing yourself to enjoy them without guilt will help you stick with your goals and make sustainable changes.
Types of Healthy Desserts
Look for dessert options that include whole foods like nuts, fruit, popcorn, and Greek yogurt. These ingredients provide protein, fiber, and important vitamins and minerals. They also tend to be lower in calories, added sugars, and saturated fat.
If you tend to crave frozen desserts, consider trying frozen yogurt. Frozen yogurt can have half the calories of regular ice cream, and less saturated fat depending on the brand.
Another option is “frozen yogurt bark,” made by spreading low-sugar Greek yogurt on a lined baking sheet, topping it with fruit or chocolate chips, and freezing. Once frozen, you can break it into pieces to enjoy a high-protein frozen dessert.
Chocolate Covered Nuts
Consider chocolate-covered almonds or a trail mix with dark chocolate as a satisfying dessert option. For another nutrient-dense combination, you can also try energy balls made from peanut butter, oats, honey, and chocolate chips.
Try chocolate-covered frozen banana slices or a smoothie with banana, peanut butter, and cocoa powder. You can also experiment with “nice cream” recipes, an ice cream dessert typically made from frozen bananas.
Popcorn is a great whole-grain option for a dessert, rich in fiber and low in calories. One study found that people who ate popcorn instead of potato chips for a snack felt more satisfied and less hungry later on. Pair popcorn with dark chocolate chips or a low-sugar kettle corn product.
Tips for Eating Dessert and Managing Weight
It’s important for your eating plan to feel sustainable. Below are some ways you can include dessert in your day without getting in the way of your weight management goals.
Focus on Nutrient-Dense Ingredients
When deciding what to eat for dessert, try to include at least one nutrient-dense ingredient. Minimally processed whole foods are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
For example, nuts are rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fats, along with vitamins and minerals like magnesium and iron. Dark chocolate is an anti-inflammatory food with many health-promoting compounds, vitamins, and minerals.
Bananas offer natural sweetness, fiber, and potassium and are very versatile in desserts. Other fruits like berries and apples are nutritious dessert ingredients as well. Whole grains, including popcorn and oats, have fiber which helps keep you full longer.
Listen to Your Body
Practicing mindfulness when eating desserts is key. Check in with your body and notice what type of foods you are craving. Identify how hungry or full you feel. The goal is to avoid mindless snacking or eating out of habit.
Practice eating your dessert slowly, savoring each bite. Minimize distractions if you can. Research shows that people who eat snacks in front of the TV are more likely to overeat due to less awareness of the amount consumed.
If you find yourself ravenous and craving dessert foods at the end of the day, it may be worth talking to a registered dietitian to help you identify the root cause. It could be related to an overly restrictive diet or skipping meals during the day, leading to sugar cravings and overeating at night.
Consider booking a virtual consultation with an expert registered dietitian through Nourish for guidance on how to eat mindfully.
Include Protein-Rich Ingredients
Try including a high-fiber carbohydrate paired with a protein source for a balanced dessert snack. This combination of foods promotes satiety and provides essential nutrients for a healthy diet.
Ingredients like popcorn, oats, whole grain cereal, and fruit are examples of high-fiber carbs, while protein options may include almonds, peanut butter, or Greek yogurt.
Don't Be Afraid to Try New Things
Keep it interesting by trying new recipes and looking for exciting ideas. Instead of one dessert being the default habit, try new things with nutritious ingredients to add to the rotation.
Dessert can be included daily in a weight management plan when the focus is on minimally processed foods with fiber, protein, and natural sweetness. Try pairing a high-fiber carbohydrate with a protein-rich food for satisfaction and satiety. For long-term success, it’s important to stay flexible and avoid an “all-or-nothing” mentality around food, including desserts.
Managing Weight with an RD
Weight management is complex and is often complicated by conflicting advice online. You may find yourself in a cycle of restricting and overeating, especially with desserts. Working with a registered dietitian ensures you receive evidence-based care that targets the root cause of your concerns.
Consider trying Nourish for easy access to high-quality nutrition counseling. Our registered dietitians take a non-diet approach, focusing on building sustainable, healthy lifestyle habits instead of restrictive dieting.
All appointments are conducted online for your convenience, and Nourish accepts most major insurance companies, with 95% of our patients paying $0 out-of-pocket.
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