Yes, desserts are part of a Mediterranean Diet! The Mediterranean Diet recognizes that taking pleasure in eating is a great part of life. We are all about moderation, and the same approach is taken with desserts (more about this below). Check out some of our favorite sweet treats below, with a focus on heart-healthy fruits and dark chocolate!
How to enjoy desserts on the Mediterranean Diet
While many short-term diets take sugar out of your life altogether, we recognize that sweet treats can be part of a pleasurable and healthy life. While you do want to decrease your overall intake of refined sugar, enjoying a sweet treat now and then is perfectly acceptable! Desserts as part of the Mediterranean Diet emphasize dark chocolate and fruits, both of which provide health benefits along with pleasure so that you can enjoy them without guilt.
Check out some of our favorite, indulgent sweet treats below!Here are some of our top tips for enjoying desserts while watching your health:
Reduce sugar intake in other areas
Sugar is hidden in many (many!) processed foods that you would never think about. Packaged bread, salad dressings, and crackers all contain added sugar. By reducing your intake of packaged foods (or reading labels very carefully), you will naturally and effortlessly decrease your sugar load.
Savor the dessert
Eat your dessert while you are fully present and tuned in so that you can truly enjoy it. We don’t recommend eating dessert while you are watching TV, driving, or otherwise distracted because you won’t be able to truly savor it. You want all your senses present to enjoy your treat. The food will taste better and the experience will be much more pleasurable!
Enjoy it after a meal
We recommend that you have dessert after you have already eaten your meal (not before). When your body is already satisfied, dessert becomes just a little extra pleasure. Just as we recommend eating meals with others, we recommend having dessert with others too. It adds to the whole experience and generally reduces the likelihood of overindulging.
Choose when you want it (moderation)
Some weekends my kids have two or three birthday parties to attend, and each one includes (an often store-bought) cake. This cake is not unique, special, or precious to me, so I rarely eat it. However, if we have dinner at my friend’s house and they have prepared a homemade dessert of some sort, I will almost always sample it. That dessert, shared with friends after a delicious dinner, is a satisfying pleasurable experience for me. This tip goes hand-in-hand with moderation. You don’t want to eat all the desserts, all the time. Aim for moderation and choose when you really want it.
Choose healthy options
Dark chocolate and fruits are excellent Mediterranean inspired dessert choices. Dark chocolate is full of good-for-you stuff, including fiber, iron, magnesium, and antioxidants. Chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa content (read the label!) may improve blood flow to the brain, help those with high cholesterol, and protect against heart disease. More on chocolate (here). Berries with whipped cream, baked peaches drizzled with dark chocolate, and fruit tarts are just the beginning of delectable desserts that emphasize fruits! Read more about fruit in our page on Side Dishes.
It’s all about portion control
Just because dark chocolate has health benefits, does not mean that more is better. Dessert, including chocolate, tends to be high in sugar, and we know that too much sugar is bad for our health. We recommend savoring a square or two of dark chocolate or a few spoonfuls of your favorite dessert.
Hungry for more than just dessert? Check out the rest of our recipe section.