You're on a diet, or trying to lose weight. That doesn't mean that you can't enjoy sweets – in fact, studies have shown that diets or weight loss programs that don't include any kind of sweets are much more likely to fail. So while you may not indulge your sweet tooth like you used to, you can still humor it every once in a while.
But what to do? What to eat? How to enjoy your sweet cravings without feeling guilty?
One of the biggest aspects of including dessert in your diet plan is moderation and portion control. Instead of having a massive bowl of ice cream heaping with caramel and hot fudge, nuts and sprinkles, have a scoop of some really amazing ice cream and top it with a handful of fruit,if you so desire.
You're also going to want to limit the amount and type of desserts in the house. The less that you have to choose from, the less likely you are to binge on sugar. Pick a few choice desserts (or the makings of a few choice desserts) and keep only those ingredients in your home. We're lazy – and most of the time we will make do with the choices at hand when it comes to making our meal for the evening.
Everyone knows the benefits of dark chocolate (or at least you should) to your health and otherwise. If you don't, chocolate – dark especially, is chock full of antioxidants and is very heart-healthy. If you're looking for a quick, natural boost as well, chocolate does have a decent amount of caffeine.
If you prefer the liquid chocolate, chocolate milk is pretty much the perfect thing for your body after a hard workout (the mix of sugar, protein and nutrients) and hot cocoa is a great source of antioxidants, and can be quite low in calories. Plus, the amount of calcium that you can get in hot cocoa is as much as a glass of milk.
If you're someone who can just enjoy the natural sweetness in fruit without any additional prompting, then you're one of the lucky ones – but it's important to remember portion size when it comes to fruit! It's very easy to start with a handful of blueberries and then, wow, and hour later the entire carton has gone.
There are a lot of different ways that you can use fruit – and many of these more structured types of dessert will intrinsically curb your disregard of portion sizes. You can scoop the fruit over ice cream or angel food cake, or if you want to mix it, there an endless number of ways that fruit can be worked into different ingredients to give it that touch of sweetness that you crave – from shakes and smoothies to muffins and cookies.
There are a good number of candies out there that aren't actually awful for you – just take a look at the serving size and the nutrition information. Some of the options include Swedish Fish, sugar free gum and fat-free jelly beans.
There are a lot of different alternatives and substitute recipes out there, to reduce the caloric intake of desserts and attempt to make them more healthy. This includes everything from no-bake cookie recipes where the "wet" ingredients are mashed up bananas to replacing the sugar and oil with honey or other similar replacements. Have you ever heard of replacing all the wet ingredients in brownie mixes with pureed black beans?
If you have the time and desire to find these substitutions (and potentially not like what you have to taste) then by all means, take a look around. There are full cookbooks dedicated to these kinds of substitutions, and if you don't want to buy the cookbook, just do a search on the internet or your favorite recipe database.
What tactics do you use to make sure that you still get your sweet fix while maintaining a healthy lifestyle?
Amy Richards thinks that healthy dessert alternatives could make great custom gift baskets for those friends that you know have a sweet tooth! She also hopes that everyone finds a way that works for them to stay healthy and yet still enjoy life to the fullest, whatever that may mean.