For most of us, dessert is that ultimate treat we allow ourselves to indulge in when we deserve a little something special. For others, dessert is part of breakfast, lunch and dinner — the only part. After all, grab-and-go desserts or “healthy” treats like fro-yo seem like an excellent alternative to a calorie-filled meal. Fast? Check. Tasty? Check. Quick energy? Check. But what happens when you’re a little too sweet with sweets, and you’ve replaced all your meals with dessert? Enter the phenomenon of “dessertorexia.”
What is “dessertorexia”?
Sometimes, having a “healthy” dessert seems like a good alternative to eating a large meal. For fewer calories, we feel full, and fast. Plus, a lot of us figure that if we eat a small amount of sweets instead of a big lunch on a daily basis, we might even lose weight.
However, some girls take “just desserts” to the extreme. They consume hundreds or even a thousand calories of dessert every day, but eat practically nothing else. Katie, a collegiette™ at Loyola University, had a friend in high school who adhered to a sweets-only diet. An aspiring culinary school student, “she would always bake tons of cookies, brownies, or other baked goods and eat nothing but that,” Katie says. “She would have a cookie or two for lunch, and maybe some candy later on in the day.” If there were no baked goods around, Katie’s friend simply wouldn’t eat.
Katie’s friend did this because she thought she could indulge in a sugary diet without gaining weight as long as she kept her overall calorie intake low. She worked out excessively and despite her dessert-rich eating habits, was extremely thin. Her behavior reflects the trend of “dessertorexia”—young women eating a low-calorie, nutrient-poor diet of nothing but sweets.
Although Katie’s friend might have appeared fit, girls like her have a high risk of developing nutritional deficiencies or eating disorders. Eating nothing but desserts is “clearly an indication that someone isn’t paying attention to the quality of their calories or overall health,” says Jackie Keller, certified wellness coach and founder of Nutrifit.