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How to Make Dessert Healthier

It may seem like having dessert while on a diet is a big no-no. In actuality, if you are dieting, you should have dessert on a regular basis for the simple reason that if you deprive yourself completely from something you love, eventually you are going to lose control and binge on the same food you are trying to stay away from.

One of the major reasons dieting doesn’t work and weight loss doesn’t usually last when a person stops dieting is that as soon as the diet stops and normal pre-diet eating resumes, the weight piles back on.

Instead of having “diet” friendly dessert, a more logical approach to health and weight loss that will last a lifetime is to change your eating habits to include mainly “lifestyle” friendly choices, with a few indulgences thrown in on a rare, infrequent occasion.

The most successful and lasting way to achieve permanent weight loss involves changing your attitude about eating and about the foods you regularly eat. For example, while the diet mentality of never having a piece of French Silk pie ever again may seem like something you don’t even want to consider, it doesn’t seem so difficult to make healthier choices on a daily basis and be able to have a piece of that pie maybe once every 3 or 4 months as a treat.

While the thought of always having to eat “healthy” food may not appeal to you, it has been shown that once you start eating in a way that is better for your body, your taste buds gradually adjust and eventually the foods you loved, such as fried donuts or heavy, calorie laden cakes, may no longer taste as good. You may find that you actually crave a lighter, healthier dessert after awhile!

What is considered a “healthy” dessert choice? First of all, let’s define “dessert.” According to Dictionary.com, the most generic definition says “A usually sweet course or dish, as of fruit, ice cream, or pastry, served at the end of a meal.” Of all the words in the definition, fruit is obviously the healthiest choice, so it would seem that desserts that use fruit may be the best choice for diet-friendly, or lifestyle friendly, meal plans.

Considering the number of fruits that are available, and the amount of various types of desserts that can be made, the possibilities are vast! Fruit salads, fruit pies, fruit sorbet, and fruit topped with yogurt or whipped topping, just to name a few. If you want to get fancier, why not try a dessert using baked fruit, such as baked ginger pears or baked apples. Anyone would be impressed if a plate of bananas flambe was carried to the table at the end of a delicious meal.

What if you aren’t a fruit fan? As I said a few paragraphs above, once you are eating in a more healthful manner, it is common for your taste buds to adjust and soon you won’t find the things you were eating before as appealing, so fruit may be something you would rather have! However, if you do wish to have more of a traditional cookie or cake type of dessert, it is easy to make a few ingredient substitutions that will make those desserts healthier as well. Below is a table with just a few ideas for healthier substitutions.

Instead of: Whole milk or cream Sugar White flour 1 tbsp butter or margarine

Use: Skim milk or half and half Sweeten with fruit juice white flour & whole wheat flour 3 tbsp flax seed

In some cases, the taste and/or texture of the recipe may be different than the unhealthier version, in other cases, it is virtually impossible to tell the difference.

Adding more fiber to a dessert can make it better for you than it was in its original version. Add a handful of oatmeal to your cake batter or your cookie dough, leave the peeling on when making apple or peach pie. When making rice cereal and marshmallow bars, try using a cereal that has more fiber.

Find a cereal that looks appealing, and then check the nutritional information on the side of the box to see how much dietary fiber the cereal has. The higher the number of dietary fiber grams, the better.

Less fat is also something to strive for. While full fat ice cream is amazing tasting, a lower fat ice milk or sherbet or frozen yogurt is just as yummy. Learn to read the labels on foods you choose, and slowly try to choose more wisely as you change your way of eating. It will feel good to be feeding your family and yourself more healthy choices, and your body will appreciate it.

There are so many options for making dessert healthier, I have tried to give you a few examples so you can investigate further and find what appeals to you the most.

There are many cookbooks you can purchase or check out from your library, and many websites online that have endless ideas for ways to health-up your desserts. Once you learn the basics of substitutions, you can experiment with