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The scoop on desserts

Emma Stirling
Emma Stirling APD

As well as nourishing the body, good food plays a pivotal role in our enjoyment and celebration of life. Last month Hershey’s chocolate company launched a partnership with the American Dietitian’s Association – Moderation Nation. It’s designed to give American’s access to a free, first consult with a dietitian. But it has opened plenty of debate, including the interpretation of what the word ‘moderation’ means with healthy eating.

Indulgence is the word more often found partnering desserts, not moderation. So where do sweet treats fit in a low GI diet if you want to keep a healthy weight and manage blood glucose levels?

First of all, you are more likely to stick to your dietary goals or eating plan if you include an occasional treat rather than deprive yourself. In fact, finishing your meal with something sweet can help signal the brain’s satiety/satisfaction appetite centre and stop you hunting around the kitchen for a little something extra.

Secondly, moderation is easy if you share an indulgent dessert, use a smaller bowl or make just enough so there’s no temptation for seconds or thirds.

Woman eating dessert

Most importantly desserts can be delicious way to lower the GI of your diet and up your intake of fruit and low-fat dairy foods all in one go. So, here’s the scoop on what to do:

  • Base your desserts around low GI orchard fruits like apples, pears, peaches and plums. Try poached pears in cranberry juice with a dollop of low fat vanilla yogurt.
  • Use low GI dairy foods like yogurt or fromage frais in parfaits, meringues or trifles.
  • Make a crumble topping with traditional rolled oats or natural muesli.
  • Add lime and lemon juice to desserts. Acids in food slow down stomach emptying and the rate at which carbohydrates can be digested, in turn lowering the GI.
  • Try a creamy rice pudding made with a low GI rice like basmati or Doongara Clever Rice.

For sweet inspiration check out some of Johanna Burani’s recipes in GI News like Baked spiced pears with zabaglione sauce

The trick with fitting in desserts and keeping a healthy weight, is to base the majority of your meals around foods low in energy density and leaving room for that sweet finish.

Emma Stirling is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and health writer with over ten years experience writing for major publications. She is editor of The Scoop on Nutrition – a blog by expert dietitians. Check it out or subscribe for hot news bites and a healthy serve of what’s in flavour.