The Calorie Wallet: Dessert
Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD
For some people, a meal just isn’t a meal unless there’s a sweet treat at the end. But since many desserts are loaded with fat and sugar, not to mention the huge portion sizes that are served in many restaurants, you could find your calorie wallet empty after just a few bites.
Let’s say you hold back 150 calories to spend on dessert. What would that buy you, and how can you get the best value for your calorie bucks?
- If pie is your thing, know that 150 calories will buy you only about a half of a small slice. The crust is full of fat, so one way to save a few calories is to focus on the filling.
- Cheesecake is one of the richest desserts around. It takes two hours of jogging to burn off the calories in a typical serving. If you only want to eat 150 calories’ worth, you’ll have to share your slice with six other people.
- Cakes add up fast, too, thanks in large part to the fatty frosting. Eat a whole slice, and you’ll be pulling five big ones out of your calorie wallet. Even this small snack cake has more calories than you have to spend, so if you’re going to stay within your budget, you’ll need to share.
- Like cookies? You might want to learn to like graham crackers or vanilla wafers instead. For your 150 calories, you only get about two-thirds of a typical bakery cookie, or just three little sandwich cookies. If it’s quantity you’re after, your 150 calories will buy you five graham cracker squares or eight vanilla wafers.
- Ice cream could bankrupt you in no time, too. One-hundred fifty calories only buys you a few bites. Frozen yogurt has less fat, so the portion is slightly larger, but not by much.
- So here’s why we steer people toward fruit for dessert: aside from the fact that it’s sweet, delicious and healthy, you get much more for your calories. Even if you drizzle a tablespoon of chocolate syrup on top, you can still eat a full cup of strawberries – or a cup and a half if you skip the syrup. Frozen fruits can really satisfy the ice cream craving while saving you lots of calories. For 150 calories, you could have a whole frozen banana with chocolate syrup, a cup and a half of frozen mango chunks or almost two cups of whole frozen cherries.