Whenever we have to choose a dessert, we think about our diet and then we opt for a dessert that has more fruits in it because we think of it as a healthier choice over a chocolate fudge brownie or a Nutella waffle.
But have we ever thought of as to why one dessert is better than the other? Have we ever thought about fruit maintaining its nutritional integrity once it’s been cooked? Or how much sugar and calories are going into our bodies and whether sugar affects us in a bad way or not?
Be Conscious of What You’re Eating
In a recent survey by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation, over a third of the respondents said they followed a specific diet, with being aware of how many proteins, carbohydrates etc. does their food has.
However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the US says that the average American consumes almost three times more than the recommended amount of sugar per day.
Dr. Kima Cargill, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Washington-Tacoma and author of The Psychology of Overeating: Food and the Culture of Consumerism, says scientists and government experts can’t agree on what qualifies as a healthy diet.
She says the people are less trusting of research results because of the frequent reversals on what’s considered good for you.
With so many bloggers and social media influencers recommending us diet plans on how to eat healthily, we’ve gotten confused about the true meaning of nutrition.
“Healthy dessert is almost an oxymoron,” she added “what makes dessert a dessert is sugar, and if you look at the research on sugar, which has been correlated to cancer and Alzheimer’s; it’s not healthy. It’s wishful thinking, and marketers know that. They know people want the idea of a healthy dessert.”
The Cookie Situation
Let’s say an oatmeal raisin cookie is better than a chocolate chip cookie. The raisins and oats contain fiber and other sorts of essential vitamins and hence it a healthier choice over the chocolate chip cookie.
According to the USDA’s Food Composition Databases and regardless of what you choose whether the oatmeal raisin cookie or a chocolate chip one, they both practically the same in fat, fiber, and calorie when both cookies are of the same with and size.
Moderating vs Eliminating
Marisa Moore, a dietician nutritionist based in Atlanta says “I think you always have a choice about how you nourish your body,” she explains, “which is important because it’s about how you feel. But I realize carrots are not a substitute for chocolate. The goal is to look for foods that actually make you feel good, mentally and physically.”
In terms of dessert, we should be moderating our choice over strictly eliminating them. The idea implies that one should have their favorite desserts in small quantity rather than completely giving up on them for “healthier” desserts, which don’t help at all.
How We Decide What We Should Eat
Marketing expert and is the assistant professor of marketing at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Melissa Bublitz says that there are two ways on how we make choices related to food. The first is when we equate food labeled as natural or organic as being good for us. Marketers call this the “halo effect”.
The second way is that we are fooling ourselves by making deals through motivated reasoning and moral licensing.
Bublitz says, “to mitigate the guilt we feel eating a fruit-based dessert, even if in our brain, we rationalize, it’s a cookie, I shouldn’t eat it, feels like a slightly better choice.”
Paul Adams, senior science editor for “Cook’s Illustrated”, says “Dessert is something we eat for pleasure, and pleasure is critical to good health,”
He explains “Stress and unhappiness are factors contributing to poor health. In general, I think that the ‘X must be better for me’ way of thinking is in itself not terribly healthy. If you’re trying to micromanage the nutrient levels of each course you eat, you’re probably not having a delightful time.”