Good news: You can absolutely still enjoy dessert even when you're trying to lose weight. In fact, denying yourself sweets when you have a serious sweet tooth could hurt rather than help you reach your weight-loss goals.
It's true. Allowing yourself to enjoy dessert (if you tend to crave sweets) and incorporating it into your weight-loss plan can help keep you on the right path. If you restrict yourself from all things sweet entirely, it's likely that your goals will backfire because:
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- You'll feel deprived. If you completely banish sweets from your diet, you'll feel more restricted, which makes the entire experience less enjoyable. It's also less likely you'll stick with this plan for the long haul, meaning you won't create healthy, sustainable eating habits. Plus, deprivation can actually increase your cravings, which is the opposite effect you want to have, per the Mayo Clinic.
- You're more likely to binge. Have you ever started a diet and sworn off all sweets only to find yourself binging on cookies a few days later? There's a reason this happens to many of us. When we deem foods as "bad" or "off-limits" and remove them completely from our diet, we increase the chances of binging on these foods the next time our motivation is low.
So, what should you reach for when it comes to dessert? Based on what we know about deprivation and subsequent binging, your dessert should be satisfying and something you enjoy. That said, when weight loss is the goal, aim to:
Keep portion sizes in check. Enjoying a scoop of ice cream is vastly different from eating an entire pint.
Enjoy desserts with a boost. Incorporating healthier ingredients like berries, dark chocolate and oats amplifies the dish's nutritional benefits and helps keep you satisfied. You may want to stock your pantry with these staples.
4 Weight Loss-Friendly Desserts to Enjoy
Enjoy these desserts that will help you achieve your weight-loss goals.
1. D.I.Y or N’ice Cream
N'ice cream is traditionally made by blending frozen bananas — you can see why we're a fan of this dessert. Bananas are naturally sweet and creamy, but they're also rich in potassium, vitamin C and some B vitamins, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Topping your n'ice cream with dark chocolate chips, fresh berries or shredded coconut ups the dessert factor and the nutritional value of this sweet treat.
If bananas aren't your thing, there are other ways to make healthier ice cream at home that are fruit- and coconut milk-based.
2. Fruit Cobbler
The base of a fruit cobbler is made up of nutritious ingredients like fresh fruit, whole-grain oats and sometimes nuts. Aside from their vitamin and mineral offerings, these foods have fiber and, in the case of nuts, satiating healthy fats and protein.
It's when you overload it with sugar and butter that cobbler can take a turn for the worse. Keep your cobbler light by reducing the amount of butter or sugar the recipe calls for.
3. Dessert Hummus
Satisfy that after-dinner-hankering for dessert with…hummus?! Yes, you read that right.
Like regular hummus, dessert hummus is made from chickpeas, but instead of adding lemon, tahini, olive oil, garlic and savory spices, you incorporate more dessert-like ingredients, including dark chocolate, pumpkin, honey and fruit.
Garbanzo beans are rich in fiber and protein to help keep you full, and adding good-for-you ingredients like the aforementioned ups the nutritional value of your dessert.
Recipes to Try
4. Chia Pudding
Chia seeds are tiny but mighty, providing a good source of protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. They also expand when combined with a liquid, which is the basis for chia seed pudding.
Use milk or a nondairy milk alternative to help create the pudding base, and top the protein- and fiber-rich snack with healthier ingredients like fresh fruit, nuts and cacao to keep it weight loss-friendly.
Recipes to Try
2 Dessert to Avoid
When trying to lose weight, limit or avoid these desserts.
1. Ultra-Processed Candy and Baked Goods
If your inner cookie monster is being persistent, enjoy a homemade chocolate chip cookie or brownie instead of the highly processed version you find at the grocery store. Not only will it taste better and likely offer more satisfaction, but research shows it may make a difference when it comes to weight loss.
A December 2019 issue of Current Treatment Options in Gastroenterology found a strong link between the growing popularity of highly processed foods and the obesity epidemic in the U.S.
2. 'Diet' Desserts
Packaged diet desserts — the kind you'd find in the snack aisle at the grocery store — are typically highly processed, containing sugar substitutes and other fillers that don't really do us any favors when it comes to weight loss.
Even more, they leave a lot to be desired — literally. No matter how they try, sugar-free ice creams and cookies just don't cut it and they'll just leave you wanting more of the real thing.
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