Why eating dessert is actually part of a healthy lifestyle

New health journeys often fail because of the “all or nothing” mindset. Thinking you can “never” have your favorite foods again is a big reason that people don’t stick with their dieting plan. Sweet treats are one of the biggest things people find difficult to give up, and one of the first reasons people fall off the weight loss bandwagon. However, desserts are part of an overall balanced and healthy diet and eating them in moderation doesn’t mean you’ve gone wrong.

Donuts, cakes, and cinnamon rolls are not super nutritious foods. Despite that, allowing yourself to have them or others like it every now and then makes a healthy lifestyle sustainable. If you know you can go the rest of your life and never feel a desire to eat a sweet ever again, then more power to you. However, the reality is this isn’t the case for most people.

Understandably, eating a balanced diet is easier said than done. When there’s a container of muffins in front of you, the idea of “balance” can easily go out the door. But cutting a food or food group completely out is not balance at all. This doesn’t mean you should go and have a slice of pie every day, but it does mean that you can have one occasionally.

Woman eating doughnuts, junk food
Sweet treats are one of the biggest things people find difficult to give up, and one of the first reasons people fall off the weight loss bandwagon. (© Drobot Dean – stock.adobe.com)

What if I want sweets more often?

Nowadays, there are healthier swaps for everything, and there’s so many easy and quick dessert recipes out there to try. From cinnamon rolls to sugar cookie bars, the options are endless nowadays. Even if you’re not a baker, I promise there’s a recipe for you.

As a registered dietitian, I frequently encourage people to make more meals, snacks, and desserts at home. Store bought desserts and other sweets will almost always be loaded with added sugar, extra fats, salt, and additives. Baked goods from home tend to have a much more simplistic approach. You can even use alternative sweeteners, tweak the amounts of things, swap with fat replacements, and more.

Of course, plenty of “healthified” recipes miss the mark when it comes to maintaining flavor. That’s why playing around with different recipes and finding what mix of ingredients work for you is best. Healthy doesn’t always mean tasteless.

These are some of my favorite tips for making desserts at home that I’ll feel good eating everyday:

  • Mixing regular flour with oat flour for more fiber.
  • Cutting the amount of butter/oil in half and using unsweetened apple sauce for the other half (this surprisingly works really well and adds a moist texture).
  • Using less added sugar than what the recipe calls for (according to taste preference).
  • Finding recipes that include Greek yogurt or protein powder! This is a great hack for adding more protein to your dessert, which will help you feel more satisfied and slow the blood sugar response.
  • Making fruit-based desserts to provide extra nutrition like fiber and antioxidants while bringing the sweetness.

Bottom Line

Having a piece of cake at a birthday party isn’t the end of your health journey. Eating desserts that you like can actually make you more compliant with your healthy lifestyle because you’re more satisfied overall. You don’t feel like your diet requires you to deprive yourself just to succeed at it.

That’s what makes the difference between someone who stays the course and someone who can only last a few days, weeks, or even months before falling off their dieting plan. If you have a regular sweet tooth, try to get creative with different healthy dessert recipes that call for making small tweaks to certain ingredients. In this way, you can feel comfortable eating these sweets more often.

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About the Author

Shyla Cadogan, RD

Shyla Cadogan is a DMV-Based acute care Registered Dietitian. She holds specialized interests in integrative nutrition and communicating nutrition concepts in a nuanced, approachable way.

The contents of this website do not constitute advice and are provided for informational purposes only. See our full disclaimer


  1. Good to know, now what equivalent studies are being done for women so we don’t have to suffer the invasive, often painful tests that we have to endure just to get diagnosed. Not to mention, there are no definitive treatments either for female infertility other than IVF, which may soon be outlawed by Bible thumping judges.

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