By Jessie Funchion, MS, RD, LDN
A lot of people assume they have to cut out sugar altogether, but I often encourage a more moderate approach. As we all know, complete deprivation often leads to binging. In fact, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 allows (or maybe just assumes), that we’ll all eat around 150 “discretionary calories” a day. Discretionary calories are excess calories to enjoy once your required nutrient needs are met (think sweets, salty snacks, alcohol).
Try and stick to these ground rules:
- Have it once or twice week, 100-200 calories or less each time
- Fruit is always best
- Pre-portioned/single serving desserts are second best
- Plan for it. Don’t let desserts ‘happen’ to you. Build them into your diet and enjoy them!
Try and nix dessert if:
- Your 150 discretionary calories have already been used up that day (on beer, margaritas, chips, Cheetos, etc.)
- You know it’s a slippery slope
- You’re having trouble reaching your goal weight
Here are some of my go-to suggestions:
- Dark Chocolate. My new favorite brand is Theo’s.
- Single serve ice cream bars (Skinny Cow, Yasso). Individually wrapped desserts are guaranteed damage control!
- Banana ‘nice cream‘– basically frozen and blended banana chunks with any assortment of toppings.
- One piece of fruit, or 1 cup chopped fruit. This one may get an eye roll (surprise surprise, a dietitian is suggesting fruit for dessert, but you never know!)
- Parfait – Low-fat Greek yogurt with ½ cup berries. This one is sweet and has some staying power, thanks to the fiber and protein.
- Edy’s Outshine Fruit Bars
- Half a whole wheat English Muffin with a single serve Hazelnut Butter