Why You Should Rethink Eating Sugar-Free Desserts

If you are trying to lose weight or just eat a little bit healthier, you're in good company. YouGov says these are among the top New Year's resolutions people intended to make for 2021. It might seem like giving up sugar would be a good start towards achieving either or both of these goals, but registered dietitian-nutritionist Grace Goodwin Dwyer, MS, MA made a rather surprising statement when speaking to Mashed. She told us, " I would actually encourage people to just stick with the standard (sugar-containing) versions of their favorite desserts."

Oh, is this something about how sugar substitutes are no good for us? By now we've all heard about how diet sodas can be even worse for your body than the regular sugar-loaded versions. Well, this is part of the reason. Dwyer does say that sugar-free and low-sugar desserts may be made with sugar alcohols (she says these are "things that end in '-ol' like sorbitol, erythritol, etc."), and that these additives may cause such unpleasant symptoms as bloating, gas, and diarrhea in anyone prone to IBS. Plus, she also says that artificial sweeteners of any kind can "pose the risk of getting our taste buds accustomed to super-sweetness."

Even skipping sweet foods altogether may not be the best idea

So, fake sugar bad, we get it. How about if we just try to convince ourselves that fruit alone (or, shudder, unsweetened chocolate) is really just as yummy as cookies and cake? Well, Dwyer doesn't actually recommend that, either. As she explains: "When we choose sugar-free options, we're typically aware that we're substituting or compromising in some way." She goes on to say, "This restrictive mindset means we're less likely to feel satisfied," and what's more, we may be "even more likely to feel a lack of control around sugar-containing desserts in the future."

If, on the other hand, we simply enjoy a moderate amount of the real deal dessert we're craving, Dwyer says that both our brain and our body will realize that there's no reason to obsess over it, since it's not forbidden. "In general," she concludes, "the more we restrict a food or an ingredient like sugar, the more we can build up an urge to over-eat it." Well, that's just about the best news we've heard all year! Anyone feel like going out for ice cream to celebrate?