Academy Says 'Bah, Humbug' to Holiday Weight Gain with Healthful Desserts

December 10, 2019

CHICAGO – With just a few simple ingredient swaps, making a healthful dessert is not a contradiction in terms.

"I succeeded in making a healthier cheesecake that was a rich and creamy dessert that pleased even the most discerning taste buds," said registered dietitian nutritionist Libby Mills, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

"Making some substitutions from the traditional cheesecake recipe," said Mills, who is based in Philadelphia, Pa. "I swapped plain low-fat yogurt for the sour cream. I made the crust by crushing equal parts high-fiber cereal and graham crackers and substituted the butter for lemon juice to bind the crumbs together. My family loved it."

According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a healthful eating plan limits the amount of calories people should consume from added sugars and saturated fat to fewer than 10% of your calories per day.

Here are some other ideas for snacks and treats that contain minimal added sugars.

Make It Mini: Watch your portion sizes. Make mini-cupcakes or mini-cookies using one tablespoon of dough.

Make It Lighter: Substitute applesauce for oil, margarine or butter in muffins and quick breads such as banana bread. Substitute a small amount at first because too much may change the texture of the finished product. Use two egg whites in place of one egg to reduce dietary cholesterol.

Make It Frozen: Make frozen treats by using 100% fruit juice. Dip some bananas into your favorite low-fat yogurt and roll them in coarsely chopped unsalted nuts, crunchy whole grain cereal, granola or shaved coconut before freezing. Substitute ice cream with a fruit sorbet.

Make It Sweet, But Use Less Sugar: You can reduce the amount of sugar in many recipes by 25% without even noticing: For example, use three tablespoons of sugar instead of four. You might need to increase the liquids in a recipe to replace the sugar.

In short: Eating healthfully doesn't mean you need to give up the fun of eating dessert.


Representing more than 100,000 credentialed nutrition and dietetics practitioners, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at