Time for another reality check – Are you a dessert demon? Do you have fond memories of your grandfather treating you to Tau Huay? Has bubble tea sneakily crept into your daily calorie count? Do you find it hard to resist finishing off your meal with a bowl of Cendol, with ALL the toppings? We understand the reality of being surrounded by these sweet treats so we thought we’d equip you with some DIY dessert-improvements.
Before we go on, though, let’s take a step back and quickly look at why you desperately desire dessert.
1. You have legitimate dessert cravings
Yes, they are real sensations! If you have been eating a high sugar and/or high fat diet for some time, you likely crave foods that satisfy the blood glucose rush you normally get. The first step is to recognise what you’re feeling. The second step is then to make small micro changes and improvements to improve your diet because the more you resist instantly giving into cravings, the easier it becomes.
2. You have a particular association with dessert
You may connect dessert with a childhood memory, eg. a reward for doing great at school or finishing your main meal. Desserts could be a crutch you use for when you feel sad or a celebration for when you’re happy. Either way, this is considered emotional eating. These types of associations with food have formed because of your habits. Changing a habit is just as much about your thought process, as it is your physical reactions to reaching for desserts. But it can be done! Find more about that in the blog ‘ Do You Want to Learn the Secret to Change? Some Powerful Truths from An Olympian’
Why this is important in terms of weight loss and getting toned?
At Active8me we want you to get fit and healthy and see transformation. This means you will have to make some changes and some sacrifices (hint: even in dessert). But we also want you to make changes that last, as opposed to short-term gains that often do not. This is why restrictive diets don’t normally work!
We’re just like you and we live in the real world which is why we want you to embrace a healthier, balanced life of active living rather than a very restrictive lifestyle that you will eventually resent, rebel against, and not maintain over the long term. Therefore, even though these desserts aren’t very good for you, we have devised some alterations that you can make as a first step towards more healthier dessert choices in general. If you start small, you will hardly feel like it is a sacrifice and soon notice that your sweet tooth is not as domineering as you thought!
Here are our thoughts on 6 popular desserts across Asia
✓ What we like about it – Coconut milk is rich is manganese, which is good for fighting muscle cramps and soreness.
× What makes us cringe – Coconut milk is also full of saturated fat, which is not good for your heart health and overeating it puts you at risk of diabetes.
✓ How to make it healthier – Limit your intake, ask for less syrup and ditch the added toppings. If you really feel the need to have this sweet treat, share it with a friend!
✓ What we like about it – Black and green tea have beneficial anti-oxidants known as polyphenols. They can help to protect the body against free radicals that cause cellular damage and inflammation in the body.
× What makes us cringe – The tapioca really increases the calorie count, meaning you are thwarting your weight loss efforts without realising. The popularised versions of pearl milk tea, with added purees and flavours have really heightened the calories and outweigh the health benefits.
✓ How to make it healthier – Ask for less or no sugar (this includes flavoured syrups and fruit purees). Opt for fresh milk instead of non-dairy creamers. Go plain and minimise the chewy tapioca pearls for less calories.
✓ What we like about it – It’s shaved ice! What’s not to like about upping your water intake in a crushed ice, cool, kind of way? By cutting back on some of the syrups and the condensed milk you can dramatically reduce the calories and actually enjoy this occasional sweet treat without worrying too much about your waistline.
× What makes us cringe – The psychedelic concoction of sugary syrups wreaks havoc with your blood glucose levels.
✓ How to make it healthier – Cut back on the condensed milk and choose at least one less syrup. Definitely avoid adding the extra toppings as they are not necessary for taste.
Tau Huay (Dou Hua 豆花)
✓ What we like about it – The soybean curd is high in protein, calcium and vitamin B12. These are good for muscle, bone and nerve health, with the ability to fight off fatigue.
× What makes us cringe – The sugar and the non-dairy creamer that contains hydrogenized fat, which is added in manufacturing process. And, of course the pure sugar syrup. There is a whopping 55g of sugar in the popular premade serve, which can lead to spikes in blood glucose, not to mention terrible for your teeth!
✓ How to make it healthier – Stick with the traditional, more homemade style Tau Huay over the pre-made gelatinous version. Avoid those made with non-dairy creamer and, most importantly, skip the syrup!
Bubur Cha Cha
✓ What we like about it – The sweet potato is high in fibre which keeps you feeling fuller for longer and is great for your digestive health. They are an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) which is beneficial for boosting immunity and vision. It also contains choline, a phytochemical said to contributes to better sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory.
× What makes us cringe – It is high in both saturated fat from the coconut milk and the sweetening palm sugar. Regularly eating bubur cha cha will contribute to weight gain and increase your risk of diabetes.
✓ How to make it healthier – Switch the coconut milk with evaporated milk and choose a smaller serving size as there are lot of calories in this sweet treat.
Tangyuan in peanut soup
✓ What we like about it – The traditionally used black sesame is a great source of magnesium and calcium. Sesame seeds can help regulate blood pressure and are great for bone health.
× What makes us cringe – The glutinous rice has a high GI, meaning it is easily digested and absorbed, so it may cause spikes in blood glucose. Additionally, the rice is considered full of empty calories, with little nutritious value.
✓ How to make it healthier – Avoid the modern versions that have all sorts of sweet fillings.