Choosing healthy foods doesn’t mean you need to neglect your taste buds. In fact, you can find plenty of sweet, delicious treats that actually promote weight loss—if you know where to look.
We asked three nutrition experts to share their favorites. Choose any of these the next time you’re faced with temptation.
“Frozen cherries are a smart way to satisfy a sweet craving,” says Joy Bauer, R.D.N., health and nutrition expert for NBC's TODAY show, best-selling author of From Junk Food to Joy Food, and founder of Nourish Snacks. “They’re like a healthy version of cherry Italian ices. You can enjoy one cup of these icy treats for about 100 calories, and because they’re frozen and take a while to eat, you’ll stretch out your snack time.”
CHIA SEED PUDDING
Chia seeds are “one of the most effective appetite suppressants,” thanks to a combo of healthy fat, protein, and an impressive 11 grams of fiber in just two tablespoons, says Lori Shemek, Ph.D., author of How to Fight FATflammation.
“To create a creamy, decadent sweet treat, simply combine chia seeds, coconut milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Allowing to rest [in the refrigerator] overnight, then top with fruit and shredded coconut,” she says.
If you need an excuse to indulge in some chocolate, here it is: “Chocolate is high in flavonoids, plant nutrients that can help stop fat storage, reduce appetite, and lower blood sugar to help curb hunger and cravings,” Shemek says.
She suggests adding a few cacao nibs to yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothies, or dipping mandarin or tangerine slices in melted dark chocolate.
HONEY ROASTED ALMONDS
“Research has shown that almonds can be a very integral part of a weight loss program,” says Keri Gans, R.D.N., author of The Small Change Diet. “The combination of healthy fat, protein, and fiber lends itself to promoting fullness,” and the honey will satisfy your sweet tooth. Stick to a one-ounce serving or the calories and fat can quickly add up and undermine your efforts.
Throw in some yogurt to put this sweet snack over the top. “An abundance of healthy gut flora is important for weight control, and yogurt contains beneficial bacteria,” Shemek says, adding that strawberries are also high in the antioxidant anthocyacin, which helps to stop fat storage.
She recommends dipping halved or whole strawberries in Greek yogurt and freezing them before eating.
PEAR SLICES AND ALMOND BUTTER
“It’s a nutty, sweet, and juicy treat,” Shemek says. “The pear is high in fiber, and the almond butter is dense with healthy fat that stops hunger and cravings by balancing blood sugar. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon for even more flavor and weight-loss benefits.”
No need to outgrow your favorite childhood beverage. “An eight-ounce glass of nutrient-rich chocolate milk can satisfy your desire for something sweet while quenching your thirst,” Gans says. “The health-promoting benefits of calcium and protein far outweigh the added sugar.”