While breakfast may arguably be the most important meal of the day, for many people, dessert is the most fun. Ice-cream, cakes, pies, and other desserts often are much more exciting than eggs and toast.
Unfortunately, dessert foods are often high in refined carbs, sugar, fat, and calories. Eating them in excess can increase your chances of developing long-term health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
But how can you satiate your cravings? Should you skip dessert altogether, or is it OK to eat it every once in a while?
Let’s find out.
Dessert foods and their nutritional content
As mentioned, dessert foods are notoriously high in many not-so-good things.
For example, just half a cup of ice cream contains anywhere from 12-24 grams of sugar. Health experts recommend limiting your sugar intake to no more than 10% of your daily calories (1). With a 2,000 calorie diet, a bowl of ice cream gives you nearly half of your sugar for the day.
That same bowl of ice cream also provides you with huge amounts of calories but little in the way of nutrients. Depending on the brand, you might also be getting unhealthy additives in the form of flavorings and dyes.
No matter what they look like, many other desserts provide you with much of the same.
The sugar problem
If ice cream, cookies, and cakes were the only foods that contained large amounts of sugar, always eating desserts might not be a problem. However, many other foods on supermarket shelves come packed with sugar—including many that you might not expect.
Ketchup, granola, peanut butter, and cereals are popular foods containing high amounts of sugar. It only takes small portions of these and others to get far more than you need. In combination with desserts, most people surpass the amount of sugar they should be getting.
The best option is unrealistic
While refined sugar might be delicious, it is behind many of the pressing health issues affecting society. Because of that, cutting it out of your diet would be a good thing.
However, as anyone who’s tried getting behind a strict diet can tell you, completely cutting sugar out of your diet is almost impossible. That’s not because there aren’t sugarfree alternatives you can turn to—it’s because psychologically, strict food plans often lead to yo-yo dieting.
Instead of eliminating sugar, craving it, caving, then resenting yourself, try practicing moderation. If you want a cookie after lunch, eat it and enjoy it. If you’re craving a slice of cheesecake one night, don’t be afraid to order it.
Just listen to your body and be aware of what you’re putting into it.
Consider healthier alternatives
Don’t forget that there are also healthy alternatives to popular desserts. Often, these alternatives let you enjoy the dish you love at a fraction of the calories, sugar, and fat.
For example, if you’re craving ice cream, try ordering frozen yogurt with fresh berries instead. If you feel like baking a cake, consider baking a carrot cake and substituting some of the typical ingredients for healthier ones.
Be aware of the foods you eat
Many desserts might not be the best for you, but there’s nothing wrong with eating a sweet treat now and then. Just be aware of the foods you’re putting into your body, and if you can, consider opting for a healthier alternative!