Because they're human, too.

Brierley Horton, M.S., R.D.
December 04, 2019

Just because dietitians are often on the advice-giving side of the diet equation, it doesn't mean they don't indulge in dessert. They're human, you know. I know this because I am one, and I've had my fair share of meals with a table full of dietitians. Between you and me, they don't usually pass on dessert—even if they only have a taste.

Read More: 10 Ways Dietitians Eat Healthy on the Weekends

They're on to something, even if it is just their intuition: turns out, there's research to support capping your meal off with a sweet treat. A study published earlier this year found that when people chose an indulgent dessert (think: cheesecake) at the start of their meal, they actually ate a healthier meal and fewer calories compared to the other group that chose a healthier dessert, like a piece of fruit, at the outset of their meal. There's another study, albeit a bit older, that suggests depriving yourself of sweet treats could spur cravings and, ultimately, overindulging.

Knowing this, I was curious about what sweet treats dietitians gravitate towards, and why? Here's what I learned.

Related: Try Our Favorite Dessert Recipes

Chocolate-y Baked Goods

Recipe pictured above: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

For me it's freshly baked chocolate chip cookies or a brownie, because they feel rich and decadent enough that I can have just one and feel totally satisfied. Jamie Vespa, MS, RD, of DishingOutHealth.com

Peanut Butter Cups

Recipe pictured above: Crispy Peanut Butter Balls

I eat dessert pretty much every day and I find that "healthier" versions of treats aren't as satisfying, so I go for smaller portions of whatever sounds good that day—whether that's peanut butter cups, a cookie or a bowl of ice cream. Lisa Valente, MS, RD, EatingWell's senior digital nutrition editor

Berry Crisp

Recipe pictured above: Nectarine Blueberry Crisp

When I eat dessert, I want it to be worth it. I practice the same thing I tell clients—be a food snob, meaning [you should] enjoy a high-quality food that's rich in flavor occasionally and don't waste time on the meaningless desserts that permeate everyday life. So what do I consider worth it? For me, it's a homemade mixed berry crisp. Warm out of the even and topped it with a little ice cream, and I'm diving in! Chris Mohr, PhD, RD, of MohrResults.com

S'mores

Recipe pictured above: Outrageous S'mores

My favorite dessert is homemade s'mores. The burnt marshmallow helps melt the chocolate and it's served as a handy-dandy sandwich—you just can't beat it. Plus, the girl that grew up around summer bonfires at camp gets to experience the ultimate nostalgia moment every time I make them with my kids. Katie Andrews, MS, RDN, of WellnessByKatie.com

Peach Cobbler

Recipe pictured above: Peach Cobbler

I don't eat dessert too often, so when I do, I go all in! This peach cobbler is a family recipe that was always my dad's favorite. It's also the simplest dessert recipe I have in my arsenal. It uses butter and is best enjoyed with vanilla ice cream, in my (and dad's) opinion. Although the recipe isn't gluten-free, I swap out a 1:1 gluten-free baking flour when needed and it tastes the exact same! Shannon A. Garcia, MDS, RD, LD of KISS in the Kitchen Blog

The Bottom Line

Overall, there's a common thread in their answers. Each dietitian strives for something that made the dessert feel truly worthwhile—whether that was because of its rich taste, the fact that it was homemade or had an element of nostalgia. Very few were inherently "low-calorie" foods.

And based on the research, I'd say that giving into their dessert desires could very well be a contributor to how—and why—they stick to a healthy diet. When dietitians (or at least this crew) opt for dessert, they make it count from a taste standpoint, regardless of how indulgent it feels, but they also still mind their portions. Good advice to take into account when it comes to dessert!

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