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There is an age-old saying that one should have breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper in order to stay healthy and keep obesity away. Dieticians and nutritionists have largely been in agreement with the conventional wisdom. Taking a cue from the expert advice you can indulge a bit while eating breakfast in case you have sweet tooth as experts suggest morning is the best time for sugary food. They say no-no to sweets post dinner while consider lunch time only relatively better. At a time diabetes and obesity are emerging as global epidemic, it makes sense to completely avoid desserts in dinner and give it a miss in lunch too. (Also read | Uncontrolled diabetes: 5 ways lack of sleep is raising your blood sugar levels)

Let’s delve into the science behind dessert consumption timing to make informed choices for our health and well-being(Freepik)

“Desserts are often regarded as a guilty pleasure, but they can also be a delightful addition to a balanced diet when consumed mindfully. As a nutritionist with years of experience, I often encounter questions about the best and worst times to indulge in these sweet treats. Let’s delve into the science behind dessert consumption timing to make informed choices for our health and well-being,” says Dr Neeti Sharma, Sr. Consultant – Nutrition & Dietetics at Marengo Asia Hospitals, Sector 56, Gurugram.

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Why morning is the best time for eating desserts

“Contrary to popular belief, there is an optimal time for enjoying desserts without compromising health goals. Consuming desserts earlier in the day, preferably during the first half, is generally recommended. This timing allows your body ample time to metabolize the sugars and carbohydrates efficiently, preventing spikes in blood sugar levels. Having desserts as part of breakfast or lunch can provide a steady source of energy throughout the day, helping to curb cravings and prevent overindulgence later on. Opt for healthier dessert options like fruit salads, yogurt parfaits, or whole-grain muffins to boost nutrient intake while satisfying your sweet tooth,” says Dr Sharma.

“Having a sweet treat in the morning can provide a quick burst of energy without causing a significant spike in blood sugar levels. Additionally, consuming desserts in the morning gives the body ample time to burn off calories throughout the day, reducing the risk of excess weight gain,” says Shruti Keluskar, Nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Pune.

“Moreover, consuming desserts after a workout session can be beneficial, as your body craves replenishment of glycogen stores to aid in muscle recovery. Pairing a post-workout dessert with protein-rich foods can further enhance muscle repair and growth,” says Dr Sharma.

“The afternoon can also be a suitable time to indulge in desserts, especially if you opt for lighter options such as fruit-based desserts or yogurt parfaits. Consuming sweets in the afternoon can help satisfy cravings without disrupting your metabolism or causing a sugar crash later in the day. It’s essential to choose desserts that are low in added sugars and high in nutrients to support your overall health during pregnancy,” adds Keluskar.

The worst time for eating desserts

Nutritionists do not recommend indulging in desserts towards evening and also after a heavy meal as it can cause sugar spike.

“Consuming high-sugar or heavy desserts before bed can lead to a spike in blood sugar levels, which may disrupt sleep patterns and contribute to weight gain. If you have a sweet tooth in the evening, consider opting for a small portion of a healthy dessert, such as a piece of dark chocolate or a small serving of sorbet, to satisfy cravings without overloading your system,” says Keluskar.

“While there’s no inherently wrong time to enjoy desserts, certain timings may be less favurable for optimal health. Late-night indulgences, especially close to bedtime, can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to weight gain. Consuming high-sugar desserts before bed can elevate blood sugar levels, making it challenging to fall asleep and potentially causing nocturnal awakenings. Additionally, having desserts immediately after a heavy meal can hinder digestion and lead to discomfort, bloating, and indigestion. It’s advisable to wait at least an hour or two after a meal before indulging in dessert to allow proper digestion of the main course,” as per Dr Sharma.

Moderation and mindful eating

Ultimately, the key to incorporating desserts into a healthy lifestyle lies in moderation and mindful eating practices. Rather than viewing desserts as forbidden treats, consider them as occasional indulgences to be enjoyed in moderation.

“When indulging in desserts, pay attention to portion sizes and opt for quality over quantity. Choose desserts made with wholesome ingredients like fruits, nuts, and whole grains, and limit intake of highly processed, sugary treats. Furthermore, listen to your body’s hunger and satiety cues, and avoid using desserts as a coping mechanism for stress or emotional discomfort. Engage in mindful eating practices by savouring each bite, focusing on the flavours and textures, and being present in the moment,” concludes Dr Sharma.

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