Reality check: Is eating dessert every day really that bad for you?
Supermodel Gisele Bündchen says she eats dessert every day. Yes you read that right: every single day.
In a recent interview with Vogue, the 38-year-old said she never goes a day without a treat because “it makes [her] happy.” She also revealed she eats dark chocolate daily, too.
“My thing is I have dessert with lunch,” she said. “Most of my desserts are avocado- and coconut-based because those are the best fats for the brain.”
Bündchen then detailed a recent dessert she ate: a pie made out of avocado, coconut and bananas.
“The crust is made out of dates and nuts, and these little coconut nibs on the top and then coconut yogurt on top, then the top part is 70 per cent dark chocolate — my favourite ever — with little pecans and things on top, because it’s the best thing for your brain and for your heart, and for your happiness.”
So is there something behind Bündchen’s daily dessert habit? According to registered dietitian Abby Langer, it depends on what you’re eating.
All dessert is not created equal
“Dessert means different things to different people,” Langer told Global News. “One person may consider dessert a piece of layer cake, while another may consider dessert to be two squares of dark chocolate.”
Langer said you can eat dessert every day without it affecting your weight or health, but you have to be really careful about what you’re eating and how much of it. Having a couple of squares of dark chocolate a day won’t hurt you, but eating an entire bar might.
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On top of keeping your portion size in check, Langer said people need to consider their regular eating patterns, too. If you eat a healthy diet filled with whole foods, it’s fine to have a little dessert.
“You can have a couple of cookies, or a small scoop of ice cream, and it really won’t make that big of a difference,” she said. “The overall dietary pattern of a person really is the deciding factor.”
Does when you eat dessert matter?
Bündchen said she eats her sweets with lunch instead of after dinner. While experts caution against eating meals late at night, Langer says if you want a small treat in the evening, it won’t do serious harm.
“People think if you eat [dessert] earlier in the day, you burn it off and it’s not going to affect your weight,” Langer explained. “Yes, the metabolism does slow when you go to sleep, but not so much that you shouldn’t be eating something after dinner.”
“You can have [dessert] after dinner if that’s the time you’re normally hungry for it.”
But, Langer cautioned, it’s important to think about if you’re really hungry for dessert after dinner, or if you’re just bored and want some sugar. If you don’t really need something sweet, don’t eat it.
“There’s no physiological need for sweet, so it may just be a habit,” she said. “If you feel like it, have it, and… keep it small. But if you don’t feel like it, don’t feel like you’re entitled to it.”
Be cautious of celebrity health advice
Celebrities like Bündchen live in a way most of us don’t, with access to personal trainers and private chefs. Most stars also follow strict or unrealistic diets, so people should consider the source when it comes to health advice, Langer said.
“When you see a headline that says, ‘Gisele eats dessert every day,’ make sure you read past the headline, and consider what these celebrities eat on a regular basis aside from that dessert — and what they’re eating for that dessert,” Langer said.
Like Bündchen pointed out, her desserts are often fruit- and nut-based. This is an important distinction from cake and whole chocolate bars.
“A lot of people will say, ‘Oh well Gisele eats dessert every day, so let’s have a brownie,'” Langer said.
“There’s a lot more to the story.”
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