You Can Eat Dessert!

Photo by Kanko* via Flickr

Photo by Kanko* via Flickr

Laura decided to swear off desserts for what seemed like the 100th time.  She had struggled to beat her weakness for sweets for years. Unfortunately, whenever she deprived herself of desserts, she craved them even more and ended up binging later.  Laura desperately wanted to eat healthy, but her inability to conquer her sweet tooth kept getting in the way and had her extremely frustrated. She hoped that this time she would be able to make it work.

Is Laura on the right path?
Laura shouldn’t beat herself up about her sweet tooth.  You don’t have to give up desserts entirely to be healthy.  It is okay to allow yourself a small dessert, once in a while.  The key is moderation because, for many people, trying to eliminate sweets will cause irresistible urges that result in binging later.  That will result in the consumption of a higher amount of calories and fat than if an occasional sweet was allowed.  Those binges can make weight control very difficult.

Part of the practice of eating sweets in moderation is realizing that your favorite desserts don’t have to be super unhealthy.  You can create a tasty version that is lower in calories, fat and sugar!  You just need to tweak the ingredients a little bit, so that you satisfy your cravings, in a healthier way.

How do I make my desserts healthier?
Many desserts are made with unhealthy ingredients, such as butter, margarine, sugar, shortening, heavy cream, whipping cream, sour cream or cream cheese. That means that they are loaded with sugar, saturated fats and empty calories.  If you want to make your desserts healthier, here are 8 ingredient substitution suggestions to help you make that a reality.

  1. Whole Eggs: Substitute either 2 large egg whites or ¼ cup of egg whites (or egg substitute) for 1 whole egg.
  2. Whole or 2% Milk: Substitute 1% or skim milk for 2% or whole milk.
  3. Cream: Instead of using heavy cream, use light cream or half and half.
  4. Buttermilk: Substitute 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice plus enough milk to make 1 cup for 1 cup of buttermilk.  Or substitute 1/2 cup plain yogurt plus 1/2 cup milk.
  5. Sour cream: Substitute 1 cup plain yogurt for 1 cup sour cream.
  6. Butter or oil: Substitute applesauce for butter or oil in a 1:1 ratio. However, work your way up to that.  For a recipe that calls for 1 cup of oil or butter, start out with ½ cup of applesauce and ½ cup of oil or butter. Increase the ratio of applesauce to oil or butter each time you make the recipe, until you feel you no longer need to use any oil or butter.  Of course this is a substitution for an ingredient, not a cooking oil.
  7. Sugar: Use half of the sugar listed in most recipes.  You’ll be surprised to notice that most times, the recipe will be plenty sweet.
  8. White flour: Substitute whole wheat flour for half the flour in the recipe.

The bottom line:
Many recipes call for inordinate amounts of fat and sugar.  But these components are not always essential for a delicious dessert.  So, with a few minor adjustments, you can still eat reasonable portions of your favorite dessert, from time to time, without taking in so many calories.  Plus, it will satisfy your cravings, reducing your chance of binging and consuming more calories than you need.  So, don’t cut out all of your sweets, if it makes you crave them even more.  Just make good choices on what’s in your sweets, how often you eat them and the portion size when you do eat them.  You only live once, so you need to strike the right balance between fun and health!

Comments (5)

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  1. merri says:

    mmm i love desserts. i agree, if you want dessert and deny yourself you may end up pigging out needlessly later.

  2. I love this article! A couple more suggestions, especially if you are trying to follow a plant-based diet: use Ener-G instead of eggs and soy milk instead of dairy milk. And there are some great vegan dessert recipes on line too.

  3. Maria Isabel says:

    This is a good podcast. I have done some of the substitutions and my family like them, specially the chocolate chip cookies that I make.

  4. […] covering all the latest scientific findings and how to incorporate them into your busy life. I love her take on dessert. Yes you can eat it! Zen To Fitness: Raise your hand if you struggle with portion control and […]

  5. […] covering all the latest scientific findings and how to incorporate them into your busy life. I love her take on dessert. Yes you can eat it! Zen To Fitness: Raise your hand if you struggle with portion control and […]

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