It almost never fails — as soon as dinner is over, the urge to wrap it up with a sweet finale takes over! The good news is that you don’t have to fight the desire to indulge even if you are trying to lose weight. Here’s a little more about why we crave sweets and how to deal (without wrecking your waistline):
Why Do We Crave Dessert?
According to Psychology Today, 97 percent of us get cravings. So it made us wonder: why? Apparently, it’s a gift that us humans have developed over time (thanks evolution). According to some research, there are a variety of different reasons we may be craving sweets after a meal, including habit or association (ie that piece of chocolate makes you feel good and satisfied), and it boosts your mood (like it or not, sugar boosts serotonin, which makes you feel better).
Life is short. Eat dessert.
While some people aren’t affected by this sweet urge (lucky them!), I’m a huge dessert fans myself, so just the very thought of trying to ‘break’ this habit puts me in a bad mood. So I asked Registered Dietician Lauren O’Connor for her expert advice on this subject. “There are a number of healthy options,” says O’Connor. “I often recommend fruit-based snacks to my clients since fruit is naturally sweet. If they are in season and ripe, you really don’t need to add the sugar.” Here are three of Lauren’s favorite alternatives to high-calorie pie or ice cream:
OK, those are great, but what if I still REALLY NEED CHOCOLATE?
For those days when fruit just won’t cut it (been there!), I recommend making your own ‘healthied-up’ treats at home. You’ll save tons of fat and calories (and even burn off some while baking!). My absolute favorite dessert diva is blogger “Chocolate Covered Katie.” With recipes (many are vegan, vegetarian and actually contain good-for-you-ingredients) for desserts like her incredible cookie dough dip, brownie batter sundaes and one-minute chocolate cake, there is no reason to feel guilty about indulging!
The Bottom Line
There’s no need to deprive yourself, or feel like you are “cheating” or doing something bad by eating dessert! Your best plan of action is to plan ahead. Have healthy options on hand, or bake your treats ahead of time. If you do bake, it can be helpful to do it in advance, then wrap up single portions and freeze the rest. (Just remember, even if they are lighter versions of the good stuff, eating two or three servings worth can still undermine your hard work at the gym).