The holiday season is in full swing. You see decorations on houses and all over the stores. Holiday music seems to follow you wherever you go whether you like it or not. People are in a festive mood or at least act like it. And if that wasn’t enough, “holiday foods” are part of the package. Whether it’s pumpkin spice lattes, candy canes, or cookies in unique shapes, these treats call out to us. This makes this time of year the hardest if you’re trying to eat healthy.
Many holidays are structured around food and drink. Many people throw in the towel until after the new year, only to go back to the drawing board. But how many times will you be waiting until after (fill in the blank) to make healthier food choices? And do you want to go through this again and again?
They say that the best diet is the one you don’t know you’re on. It doesn’t feel too restricting and you get to enjoy what you eat. If that doesn’t sound like much of a diet, then you’re right. It isn’t. Healthy eating doesn’t involve starvation or continual overindulgence. It is a sustainable approach that allows you the freedom to eat foods you like, while not losing control with foods that aren’t aligned with your health goals.
When you have a treat, how much of a dessert are you having? Is it consistent with the serving size? Is it hard to tell what the serving size even is? Many companies have tried to disguise serving sizes by making them unrealistic. For instance, a bag of potato chips might have 3.5 servings in it. How on earth you’d be able to actually measure that is one of life’s greatest mysteries. Instead, a person sees that it’s only 150 calories, and eats an entire bag which is closer to 525 calories. But, the calories aren’t the only thing that is being multiplied. The protein, fats, carbs, salt content, etc. are multiplied by that number as well! There is good news to all of this though.
A recent law has improved serving sizes. Serving sizes now have to be based on the amount of food that you typically consume. They used to be based on how much you should consume. This goes for beverages too. A 12 oz drink is considered a typical serving rather than 8 oz, for example. Keep in mind that you might notice changes in the nutritional content of some foods too. If you see increases in calories and nutrients, know that it’s due to updated serving sizes. The products themselves haven’t changed.
You also may have seen that added sugars are on nutritional labels now too. Another law was put in place to make this happen. Yay! This is helpful information. Nutritional labels now have total sugars and added sugars. Total sugars include sugars that are naturally present in something. For example, sugar naturally occurs in fruits and milk. They are listed accordingly. By definition, added sugars refers to any sugar(s) that are added to foods when they’re processed. These include sugars from syrups, honey, etc. While it’s helpful to know how much (if any) sugar is added to food and drinks, both measures are important. Keep in mind that just because something doesn’t have added sugar, it can still be high in sugar. The fiber content in foods is important too. A general rule is that the more fiber there is, the less impact the sugar has on you, whether added or not.
Healthy dessert ideas
So what makes a healthy dessert well, healthy? That may sound like a contradiction, but it doesn’t have to be one. In short, healthier desserts will contain less sugar and/or more fiber. That makes the impact from carbohydrates lower. The less processed a food is, the better it generally is for you. Think about how you can make desserts from fruits and/or vegetables that aren’t as sweet. You should also consider eating foods that are higher in fat. I don’t mean any kind of fat (like trans fats), but those that naturally occur in foods. Avocados, coconuts, nuts of various types, etc. are all examples of foods high in healthy fats. You can think of them as a main ingredient in a dessert, whether you buy it, make it, or are face to face with it at a party. Be mindful of other ingredients in these foods. A sweet potato pie can sound healthy, but don’t let the name fool you. Additional guidelines can be found in one of my earlier posts.
What can diabetics eat for dessert?
If you’re diabetic or close to getting diabetes (prediabetes), then you might wonder if you should have dessert in the first place. You can. The key is to have awareness of what exactly you’re eating. As a general rule, if you don’t know what’s in something, then assume the worst.
Healthy dessert recipes
There are plenty of healthy dessert recipes online. Here’s one that I like and made over the holidays last year. It’s a chocolate pudding that I’ve slightly tweaked. The great thing about it is that it’s fast and easy to make. It’s high in healthy fats, contains protein, and is low carb. And there’s no baking involved!
- 1/2 mashed ripe avocado
- 1-2 tablespoons of unsweetened cacao powder
- 2 teaspoons of a sugar substitute (like erythritol or monk fruit)
- 1 teaspoon of nut butter (sunflower seed butter, peanut butter, almond butter, etc.)
- A pinch of salt
To make this, simply mash up the avocado well. Then add in the other ingredients and mix everything together thoroughly. Be mindful of nut butters that contain other ingredients, as many are full of added sugars and salt. Your pudding should be brown from the cacao. If it isn’t, then keep mixing until it is. You can also mix the ingredients in a blender or food processor for a creamier mouse. Once you’ve made it, you can enjoy it right away or put it in the fridge for later. Make sure to cover it if you’re saving it for another time. It’s that simple!
Other healthy dessert ideas
Desserts don’t have to be complicated. Spreading some nut butter on an apple is a perfect example. You can do the same thing on stalks of celery. While a banana pairs well with nut butter too, keep in mind that it’s a sugary fruit compared to an apple. If you haven’t picked up your low sugar guide, then be sure to get on my mailing list so that I can get that out to you. I tell you which fruits are lowest in sugar so that you don’t have to guess. You’ll also learn about sweeteners, drinks and much more! Get my FREE Guide: 5 Simple Ways to Cut Back on Sugar by going to my homepage. Enter your name and email address and I’ll get that right out to you!
Have your cake and eat it too
As you can see, there are many ways to enjoy dessert without feeling bad about yourself. The holidays don’t have to leave you in a holidaze. Follow the tips above and you can enjoy everything that goes with them, even the food.
Do you have a go-to, healthy dessert idea? Please share your healthy dessert recipes in the comments…