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What can we eat if we are craving sweets?

Andrea Zentai, Nutritionist

You may think that for us, dieticians, it is easy to observe the recommended diet and keep our weight since we have good and detailed knowledge of the theoretical grounds: the physiological conditions, the rules of selecting the basic ingredients, the methods of preparation and the what, when and how of eating. And it is certainly true, but this does not mean that we would not be as fond of delicacies as anyone. The difference may lie, of course, in what exactly one considers as delicacy.

Personally, I’d be perfectly happy living on porridge, salad and fish but I must also admit that I have a very sweet tooth. What keeps me in check is the fact that I am inclined to gaining weight, therefore I make sure that I exercise or do some sport regularly. And, first for the sake of my patients and then following the birth of my child, I felt obliged to do some investigation into the issue of finding the types of sweets that can be fitted into the framework of a healthy lifestyle.

 

Healthy sweets

 

According to recommendations, we should consume sweets no more than once or twice a week. At this point, we need to stop and re-set our way of thinking. If we take care with our meals, avoiding white sugar and white flour and using green or dried spices for seasoning, our taste will significantly change and our senses will feel fruits sweet, too. This means that a fresh fruit salad can serve as a magnificent dessert after a Sunday dinner.

If we consider what we classically mean by sweets (chocolates, candies, cream cakes, pralines, etc.), it is easy to understand why in the old days a child would be allowed to eat them only on holiday occasions, guarding jealously the chocolate father Christmas figures in the window. Today, in contrast, it is often part of the daily shopping routine to drop some sweets into the shopping cart. Parents do not realize the health risks of buying the favor of their kids with sweets so that they do what they are asked or just give their parents a short break. Many mean to express their love through sweets whereas others wish to compensate for the insufficiency of time spent with their kids.

The reverse side is not better, either: if we ourselves close the day in the evenings by nibbling some sweets, whether to manage stress or just out of habit, we will only fix a bad, life-long pattern in our kids.

Healthy sweets are those that have useful nutrition content such as fibers, calcium, omega-3, vitamins or minerals. There are countless imaginative forms in which these can be provided – just give it a try!

Recommended basic ingredients - many of which can be consumed alone as a dessert.

 

  • fruits: alone or as dressings, cakes, jellies, ice creams, or with puddings
  • vegetables: as jams (e.g. onion, pumpkin, rhubarb jam), in cakes (chocolate beetroot cake, carrot and coco-nut balls)
  • wholemeal flours and flakes: as puddings, pancakes or crepes, brioche
  • dairy products: yoghurts, cheese cakes, cheese balls
  • oily seeds: alone or as creams (e.g. walnut cream) or as cake flour, in a ground form (e.g. poppy seed cake)

 

Most of our traditional recipes can be adjusted to make for a healthier version but they may deserve a new name, too, on account of their distinctive appearance and flavor.

Healthy sweets are those that have useful nutrition content

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