How Often Should You Eat Dessert If You’re Trying To Lose Weight?

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By Nina Bahadur; Photography by Eaters Collective on Unsplash

An expert explains exactly how often you can dig into the sweet stuff.

If you’re trying to lose weight, an overhaul of your eating habits is a good way to begin. Focusing on whole foods, cutting down on sugar, and packing in fruits and veggies at every meal can go a long way.

And while eating healthier overall is a great start, it can be a little bit tricky to figure out whether treating yourself to dessert is just part of a balanced weight-loss plan or if it’s actually screwing you over.

The good news is that you don’t need to give up all dessert in order to successfully lose weight, says Rachel Meltzer Warren, a Jersey City, NJ-based registered dietitian and nutritionist. “It’s not realistic to tell people to never eat dessert; that’s not something I expect of my clients, or myself!” says Metltzer Warren.

Watch: 11 ‘Healthy’ Foods Nutritionists NEVER Eat

So instead of swearing off ice cream, cookies, and doughnuts, she suggests digging into a treat once or twice a week. She says this shouldn’t derail your progress as long as you keep your portions in check.

“What I see with clients is that it’s all about resetting your habits so that when you do eat a doughnut or cupcake, you really appreciate and enjoy it,” she says. “When sugary treats are your default sweet food and you eat them every day, you overdo the calories and the enjoyment of the treat barely registers anymore,” says Meltzer Warren. But when you make those high-kilojoule desserts an every-once-in-a-while thing, the kilojoules go a lot further in terms of satisfaction and they don’t make a huge dent in your kilojoule or sugar intake for the week.

Plus, you can always swap out unhealthy desserts for more healthful options or evaluate what causes your sweet tooth and try to curb those cravings.

Watch: The 6 Worst Pieces Of Weight-Loss Advice Nutritionists Have Ever Heard

“If you have a sweet tooth, think about the area where you tend to overdo it,” Meltzer Warren says. If you always have dessert after dinner, a good strategy can be to switch to a healthier sweet food like fruit for most of the week. However, an even better option is to retrain your brain to associate dinner with something like sipping herbal tea or brushing your teeth post-meal. Then, treat yourself to something you really look forward to like a piece of cake or ice cream once or twice a week. Make it a really good one. And enjoy every single bite.

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