Is it okay to eat dessert on a diet?

You don’t want to mess up your diet and stop losing weight. Or even worse, gain weight. But, if you are eating well is it okay to give yourself a bit of freedom?


Say YES to dessert

TL;DR: Indulging in your favorite treat from time to time can make it easier to stick with your diet for longer.

Life is made for living. And food is a big part of the enjoyment and pleasure we seek. Food is involved in every occasion. We celebrate with food and there is always a cake or a dessert to share at special events - big and small.

Healthy food makes you feel physically good. It gives you the energy you need to work, play and exercise. But life would be terribly boring if it was just about wholegrains, kale and skinless chicken. 

All weight loss diets involve some form of calorie restriction. Cakes, sweets, chocolates and desserts are full of calories and not much nutrition. They certainly shouldn’t be part of your daily meal plan. But when they become a treat that you savor every now and again, they can make you feel like a normal member of society. Rather than someone who always says no to the fun stuff.


Desserts are full of sugar and fat

Think of your favorite dessert. It could be apple pie, icecream, cake, sticky toffee pudding, chocolate mousse or cheesecake - to name a few. What ingredients are used to make it? More than likely it is full of sugar, cream, butter, or cream cheese, or a combination of these.

The ingredients that typically go into making dessert are not the ones typically found in a weight loss plan. In fact, they are more than likely severely limited, or banned outright. The problem is, they are delicious! They make us feel good, and if you have a sweet tooth, they make your taste buds dance.

The effort it takes to stick to only eating salads and drinking water can be exhausting and socially alienating. If you have given up all of your favorite foods, they are probably calling your name. Unless willpower is your super strength, at some point you are going to give in to temptation.


Giving in to temptation

A food craving is an intense desire to consume a specific food. Research shows that chocolate is one of the strongest and most common foods people crave1. It has also been shown that the more you think about the food you really really want to eat, the more likely you are to succumb to the craving.

That is why giving in to temptation can be a good thing. The longer you deprive yourself, the more you think about the food, the more likely you are to binge on foods that you have not been allowing yourself to eat. This is especially true if the forbidden treat is sitting right in front of you2. How can you possibly say no when someone insists that you help celebrate their special day with a slice of birthday cake? Or when you go to a friend for dinner and they have made your favorite dessert - just for you?

You don’t want to mess up your diet and stop losing weight. Or even worse, gain weight. But, if you are eating well for eighty percent of the time, you can give yourself a bit of freedom for the remaining twenty percent without undoing all of your hard work3.

It is okay to eat a slice of cake or a bowl of ice cream. The trick is not to over indulge. If you give into your craving when it first rears its head, you are more likely to be satisfied with just a small amount. The longer you deny the craving, the bigger it grows. And before you know it you will be eating the whole cake or the entire cream pie.

Indulging in your favorite treat from time to time can make it easier to stick with your diet for longer. It takes away the feeling of deprivation. So next time you are with your friends and family at a special occasion, don’t be the person who always says no to the fun stuff. Dig in. Live life. Have fun.  


  1. Richard A, Meule A, Reichenberger J, Blechert J. Food cravings in everyday life: An EMA study on snack-related thoughts, cravings, and consumption. Appetite [Internet]. 2017 Jun [cited 2021 Nov 19];215–23. Available from:
  2. Fedoroff I, Polivy J, Peter Herman C. The specificity of restrained versus unrestrained eaters’ responses to food cues: general desire to eat, or craving for the cued food? Appetite [Internet]. 2003 Aug [cited 2021 Nov 19];(1):7–13. Available from:
  3. Taylor RW, Roy M, Jospe MR, Osborne HR, Meredith-Jones KJ, Williams SM, et al. Determining how best to support overweight adults to adhere to lifestyle change: protocol for the SWIFT study. BMC Public Health [Internet]. 2015 Sep 4 [cited 2021 Nov 19];(1). Available from:

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