For those of us with a nagging sweet tooth who are still trying to be healthy, there is some good news: many dietitians and medical experts say that desserts are an essential part of any ideal health plan.

The Details:

According to Dr. Chaden Sbai, an internal physician at Ingalls Memorial Hospital, people are often hungry because their bodies are searching for some nutrient or taste they’re missing. Adding variety, good-tasting food and dessert to a diet, she says, can keep cravings at bay (so you won’t go crazy on the leftover chocolate cake in the middle of the night).

Extreme diets often result in binge eating and other unhealthy habits, which only cause artificial weight loss, at best: you’ll gain the weight back once you eventually return to your normal eating pattern. Some diets such as the raw food diet, which a Spoonie at Duke tried out, are also dangerous and can lead to conditions such as amenorrhea

We suggest eating a couple nutrient-packed desserts each week to satisfy any cravings for sweets and diversify your diet.

Healthy, Easy Desserts:

1. Chocolate Covered Strawberries


Photo by Morgan Goldberg

Combine decadent chocolate with light and sweet strawberries to indulge while still feeling healthy. Not to mention, the health benefits of antioxidant-packed dark chocolate have been proven again and again.

2. 2-Ingredient Nutella Soufflé


Photo by Alex Furuya

Easy enough to make in your dorm room, this soufflé looks and tastes great enough to be served at a nice French restaurant. It’s rich and creamy, yet maintains health benefits from egg whites.

3. Apple Pie a la Dorm


Photo by Ally Mark

A super easy, three-minute microwavable pie for all the joy of Thanksgiving’s best dessert, with a fraction of the fuss. It’s perfect for when you’re feeling lazy and craving something warm, sweet and fruity. Apples are packed with fiber to keep you feeling full, along with a host of disease-fighting antioxidants.

4. Dark Chocolate Avocado Truffles


Photo by Emily Hu

This easy-to-make, three-ingredient dessert is densely packed with nutrients from two great superfoods: avocado and dark chocolate. Avocado, like nuts, contains a healthy fat that reduces cholesterol, along with 20 vitamins and minerals. The avocado acts as an alternative to cream this recipe, creating the amazingly smooth texture of these little melt-in-your-mouth bites of deliciousness.

5. Banana Bread Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting


Photo by Christine Pritula

Sure, this scrumptious dessert has it’s fair share of sugar and butter, but it’s also packed with potassium from bananas, and protein and healthy fats from the peanut butter. For a once-in-a-while indulgence, it’s definitely not a bad choice.

6. Fruit


Photo by Santina Renzi

Registered dietitian, foodie and blogger Danica Pelzel stresses that each individual is different. For many, having two or three 300-calorie desserts per week works well to curb cravings and maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, for others who are used to having dessert every day, fruit can be a great substitute on the rest of the days. If you’re bored of the traditional fruit salad, try this fruit salsa for a fun twist.

Healthy Lifestyle 101:

Dr. Sbai stresses that eating and exercise should have health, rather than body image, as the final goal. Exercise should be fun, and food should be tasty and enjoyable. Wash U has an online resource to help students navigate campus dining, to find the most healthful options. For most people, healthy eating means 45-60% calories from carbohydrates, 10-35% from protein and 25-35% from fat each day. Remember to always check in with your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet.

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