Can Dessert Be Part of a Healthy Mediterranean Diet?

It’s a question that we get asked a lot.

It’s a question that keeps some people up at night.

It's the reason some people balk at the idea of a "healthy lifestyle". 

Do I have to give up all my favorite food pleasures if I move to this kind of lifestyle???

Can I Have Dessert?

You may be relieved to hear that all traditional desserts—as sweet, creamy, or dreamy as you can imagine-- can be part of a healthy lifestyle!

People in the Mediterranean traditionally reserved these kinds of treats for special occasions, to be enjoyed in the company of friends and family. This is a great way to balance our short-term pleasures and our long-term health.

So: eat it all, just do so occasionally rather than daily. 

Unexpected Benefits (Other than Health!)

Obviously eating more nutrient-dense foods and less sugar will help improve health. (Research shows: better digestion, more stable blood sugar, less risk of diseases, better mental health, & more. More about that here.) 

But there are some unexpected benefits too! 

An unexpected benefits of reserving treats for weekly rather than daily indulgences? The treats will start to feel so much more special. Desserts will start to feel like a treat again! Many of our clients discover that they prefer to save special foods for special times because it makes that moment feel even sweeter.

Another benefit? Your taste buds will start to adapt. Let's say that you are used to eating ice cream every day, and you start eating frozen fruit in place of ice cream every other day. Your taste buds will slowly start to adapt. The ice cream will start to taste sweeter. 

We worked with a client once who couldn't eat strawberries without putting sugar on them-- berries just didn't taste sweet enough on their own. After a few months of gradually decreasing her sugar consumption (especially in "hidden" foods like packaged salad dressing), she was happily surprised to realize that she no longer even wanted the sugar. The berries tasted plenty sweet! 

Rethink What Dessert Means  

The Mediterranean Diet also encourages us to think about what we consider “dessert” for more regular or everyday occasions. 

In our household, we regularly enjoy frozen fruit or a square of dark chocolate to finish a meal. (Or both, in these Chocolate Covered Strawberries.) 

Instead of a pint of Breyers, try out our mint chocolate nice cream. Is it exactly the same as ice cream? No, not exactly…. but it is cool, creamy, and delicious.

Made with a base of frozen bananas, this sweet, creamy frozen concoction contains far fewer calories, fat, and preservatives than store-bought ice cream. Bananas, the main ingredient in nice cream, are rich in essential nutrients such as potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and dietary fiber. These are great for heart health, immune function, and digestive health. Nice cream also allows for the incorporation of other nutrient-dense ingredients like berries, nuts, and seeds, upping the nutritional content further.

(Love creamy chocolate things? Try our Healthy Chocolate Mousse too!)

When you make your own food, you get to control the ingredients. It’s much cheaper than your local ice cream shop, too!   

One More Thought About Sugar 

Dessert is of course an area where lots of sugar lies. But (and this is a big but!) most of us eat way more sugar than we think or intend, and it's NOT because we are eating too much dessert. 

It's because so many processed foods contains sneaky or hidden sugars. Turn over your jar of spaghetti sauce, can of soup, or box of cereal. Look under "added sugars" to see how much sugar has been added. Why does a bottle of salad dressing  need sugar? I don't know-- but I do know that many of them do! (Note: our favorite dips, dressings, and sauces are from our partner Primal Kitchen especially because they are careful about their ingredients and added sugar! Check them out here and enjoy 10% off with code MEDIMOVE10.)  

I know packaged foods are more convenient than making your own. As a busy Mom and working professional, there's no way I could make all my own stuff. You don't need to either. Just start getting very curious about the ingredients on the backs of the packages and boxes of food that you buy. As you start to buy package foods that do NOT have added sugar (or you start making more of your own!), your taste buds will start to adapt. 

Cutting back on sneaky or hidden sugars in regular everyday foods will go a long way towards making your desserts taste sweeter and your health happier.   

What's your Opinion? 

Let us know in the comments: how do you approach desserts and a healthy lifestyle?

Low Sugar Bottles to the Rescue 

Primal Kitchen has clean ingredients (no seed oils, no artificial anything, no dairy, and low or no sugar) and the yummiest sauces. Their new dipping sauces are incredible!

Find the sauces here. (Code MEDIMOVE10 for 10% off). 


Join our email list, where we discuss all things health and provide amazing recipes.

Leave a comment