Have Your Cake and Eat It
We love desserts – we love making them, we love eating them, we loving taking them to potluck dinners… Everything about dessert just screams abundance, generosity, joy and all those other good things in life.
Which is why, when we stumbled across an article published by Time here that puts forward a good case as to why eating dessert (from time to time) can actually be good for you, our team were literally jumping for joy – maybe our guilty pleasure isn’t so bad after all!
It’s all in the strategy!
The case against dessert seems open and shut. The sugar that makes treats so sweet has been linked to weight gain and chronic diseases ranging from Type 2 diabetes to cancer; many desserts also have an abundance of saturated fats, which potentially harm the heart, and plenty of empty calories.
But some studies are suggesting that having dessert every once in a while — the real, indulgent kind, not the cut-up fresh-fruit kind — may actually be a useful tool for eating more healthfully, when it’s used strategically.
It turns out that picking dessert first — instead of after a meal, like most of us do — is linked to eating less overall. In a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, people consistently chose healthier meals and consumed fewer calories when they picked a decadent dessert at the beginning of their meal. They didn’t even have to eat the treat first; just knowing they had selected it was enough to trigger a change.
Dessert for Breakfast?
A strategically consumed sweet can even change your overall eating habits, research suggests.
One 2012 paper found that people with obesity who followed a diet plan that included desserts like chocolate, cookies or donuts with breakfast later experienced fewer junk food cravings than people who ate a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate morning meal. The study authors suggest that this type of well-timed dessert may help with weight loss and management over time.
Less is More
Moderate indulging may also help people avoid sugar binges.
Research has shown that deprivation can spark cravings, potentially causing people to eventually eat more of the foods they were trying to avoid. So if you’re trying to reduce your sugar intake, a small helping of dessert may actually help you stick to that goal — at least at first. Over time, if you reduce your consumption little by little, it is possible to retrain your brain and tastebuds to crave sugary foods less, experts say.
Treat Days Still Apply
Felicia Stoler, a New Jersey-based registered dietitian nutritionist, agrees that dessert should be on the menu sometimes, even for people who are watching what they eat. But she cautions against thinking of it as a health food or weight loss tool.
“Should they be part of every meal? Absolutely not. I don’t even think they should be part of every day,” Stoler says. “If you want to have the sweet treat, just gauge your calories around it. Maybe eat a little bit lighter earlier in the day.”
When you do decide to treat yourself, a growing body of research suggests that doing so strategically can pay off.