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Environmental Nutrition: Sweet treats don’t need to be banned from everyone’s diet

Heidi McIndoo, Environmental Nutrition on

Healthy eating is not a black and white issue. It’s shades of gray — and sweets are definitely in the gray area. It’s true, sugary-filled treats shouldn’t be a major part of your diet. However, there’s also no reason why they need to be banned entirely. In fact, for many, swearing off favorite treats may cause feelings of deprivation, which can lead to cravings and over-indulgence. That said, the key to enjoying treats is balance.

The majority of daily meals and snacks should be composed of lean protein, fruits, veggies, whole grains, and healthy fats. As long as that is happening for most meals on most days, a small sweet treat two to three times a week can fit into a healthy eating plan without a problem.

When it comes to pastries, while they offer enjoyment, they don’t tend to provide many health benefits, and that’s fine, on occasion. Chocolate, on the other hand, may provide nutritional benefits as well as pleasure. But not all chocolate is the same.

The beneficial antioxidants are found in the pure cacao. The more cacao, the more nutritional benefits. So the darker the chocolate, the better it is for you. Milk chocolate starts with the same dark chocolate base but has added milk and sugar. These additions take the place of some of the dark cacao and therefore result in milk chocolate containing fewer of the beneficial antioxidants as well as more added sugar.


Helpful hints: Think about these tips when you’re craving a sweet treat.

(Environmental Nutrition is the award-winning independent newsletter written by nutrition experts dedicated to providing readers up-to-date, accurate information about health and nutrition in clear, concise English. For more information, visit

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