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Indulging Your Sweet Tooth

Whether you’re trying to lose weight, avoid heartburn, or simply eat healthfully, you needn’t give up sweets. Just watch how much you eat.
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Fruit and Creamy Sweets

If you’re in the mood for something creamy, flavored yogurt or plain yogurt that you can mix with honey and fruit can often do the trick. So can small portions of pudding; the pudding cups you pack in your child’s lunchbox are ideal. If it’s ice cream that you really want, says Moore, skip the scoop-yourself containers and buy single-serving novelty treats such as fudgesicles, creamsicles, even chocolate-covered ice cream bars. You’re more likely to limit your portions if they already come in a single serving, Moore says.

Fruit is a great sweet treat, says Audrey T. Cross, PhD, JD, MPH, associate clinical professor of nutrition and director of the Healthy Monday Campaign at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. To make fruit seem more like dessert and less like something you should be eating, Cross offers these suggestions:

  • Drizzle a bit of honey over mixed melon balls.
  • Blend bananas and strawberries, freeze into cubes, and eat like ice cream.
  • Sauté or bake 1/2 banana and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chopped nuts.
  • Take three of your favorite kinds of berries; cook half of them with just enough water to prevent burning. Cool and stir in remaining berries. Portion 1/2 cup of the berry compote with 1 tablespoon of your favorite vanilla ice cream.

Many nutritionists agree that when it comes to sweet treats, it’s not really what you eat, but how much and how often. “Small indulgences, even once a day, are fine,” says Cindy Moore.

“Size is what really counts,” emphasizes Carla Wolper, MS, RD, CDN, clinical nutritionist at the Center for Women’s Health at Columbia University Medical Center Eastside in New York. “If you tempt yourself and buy five cookies or five chocolate squares, you will be consuming a lot of calories,” says Wolper, explaining that a pound has 3,500 calories, and a mere candy bar a day, at 250 calories beyond what your body needs to stay at your current weight, will pack on an additional 26 pounds by the end of the year.

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