Is Dessert Safe for Cancer Survivors?

For Survivors


To all the incredible cancer survivors out there, this one’s for you!

It’s time to debunk the myth that dessert is off-limits after a diagnosis. Yes, you heard it right! Indulging in a sweet treat can be part of your journey to wellness!

Sustainability of Sweet-Treats 

When it comes to lifestyle changes, we have to consider what we can sustain long-term. Never having a sweet treat ever again is incredibly restrictive. Additionally, having an all-or-nothing mentality can put that food on a pedestal and increase the likelihood of going overboard when you are exposed to them. The more we restrict choices, the less control we can exert when we do eat them. And the more we focus on them, the more we want them, so we end up eating more of them than we planned. Allowing yourself to have dessert alongside your balanced diet of more plant-based foods, lean meats and lean dairy will help you curb any excesses! 

Dessert: More Than the Sum of It’s Parts

Living life to the fullest includes enjoying the occasional dessert. After all, a little sweetness adds joy to our days and is realistic. Think of how good ice-cream tastes on a hot day, or how fun it is to blow out the candles and eat cake on your birthday, celebrating that you lived another year. Dessert is not a health food – you are likely not getting much fiber or micronutrients from a cookie. However, food is not just a combination of nutrients. It has an emotional, cultural, and nostalgic component. I always think of my grandmother’s home-made chocolate chip cookies. Whenever I whip out the recipe and smell it baking, it reminds me of her and all the times we shared together. I would not tell anyone they have to cut out the foods that bring them so much joy. 

Making Mindful Choices

Dessert in Moderation

The amount still does matter. Often when people hear me advocating for cancer survivors to enjoy sugar in moderation, they have this idea that I go around telling people to eat glazed donuts all day long – not exactly the case. Desserts can fit within a healthy diet, but it should not displace other nutritious foods in our diet or cause one to eat in a calorie surplus all the time.

  1. Choose desserts that are around 150-350 calories to savor the flavor and still leave room for other balanced foods and meals.
  2. Go down on the portion size.
  3. Share big batches of cookies with a local fire department or bring it to work/church/a potluck with friends.
  4. Try using ⅔  of sugar than what the recipe calls for. You probably won’t even notice a difference.
  5. Be mindful of your consumption of added sugar throughout the day in sources such as drinks, cereal/cereal bars, and flavored yogurt. Opt instead to choose lower sugar alternatives for your drinks and most of your foods. 
  6. Enjoy your dessert after dinner or with dinner so you aren’t ravenous when you are eating it.

Focus on What You Can Add to Dessert

Make your desserts even more delicious and nutritious by incorporating fruits, nuts, and spices like turmeric. There are so many ways you can do this, and all it takes is a little creativity. 

  • Add berries to yogurt
  • Sprinkle nuts over your ice cream
  • Infuse a dash of turmeric into your baked goods
  • Bake with whole grain flour such as oat or whole wheat 
  • Try whipping up a batch of black bean brownies 
  • Throw in ground flaxseed into your baked goods 
  • Bake with fruits and vegetables (banana or zucchini bread)
  • Pair a candy bar with a piece of fruit

Lean on Lean Dairy: 

Did you know that dairy has a strong link with decreasing colon cancer risk?! Focus on the lower fat options to cut back on saturated fat intake. Swap out heavy creams and full-fat options for lean dairy alternatives like yogurt. Greek yogurt is higher in protein compared to regular yogurt and is packed with probiotics to support healthy digestion. Try Greek yogurt as a protein-packed base for parfaits, smoothies, and frozen treats (yogurt bark). 

Science Speaks

Contrary to popular belief, scientific research shows that sugar itself does not directly feed cancer cells. Cancer cells do consume sugar, but so do all cells in the body. However, there is no evidence to support the idea that consuming sugar promotes cancer growth. There is an indirect link with sugar and cancer since consuming excess sugar (or any calories) can cause excess weight which has been linked with increasing risk for 13 different cancers. Sugars tend to be easy to overconsume, especially if we are sipping on soda or other sugar sweetened beverages all day long. Enjoying dessert or occasional sweet treats within one’s caloric needs can help with weight maintenance. 

Dessert Options for Cancer Survivors 

Sometimes you can’t be bothered to do a bunch of prep work, but you still want a sweet treat. No worries! Here are some options to look out for on your next trip to the grocery store! Many are single serving and some even have added benefits such as yogurt or fruit!

  •  Chobani Yogurts
  • Yasso Bars
  • Hagen Dazs Mini Ice-creams
  • Magnum Minis
  • Outshine Frozen Fruit Bars
  • Clios Frozen Chocolate Covered Greek Yogurt Bars
  • Kodiak Cakes Brownie Cups
  • Halotop Cake Cups
  • Trufru chocolate covered fruits


Remember, dessert is a PART of a healthy diet. If you don’t want it at all, that’s your choice, but if you enjoy the occasional sweet treat, know that it is SAFE to enjoy both during and after treatment. Having a balanced diet in addition to eliminating alcohol, incorporating movement, managing stress, sleep, and hydration can all play a role in reducing your risk for cancer and supporting a healthier, happier YOU! 

15 Day Nutrition Challenge

Wanting to jump start your journey to a cancer prevention lifestyle? As your expert cancer dietitian, I built this 15 Day Nutrition Challenge so that you can do just that! I guide you to build and live a cancer prevention lifestyle by highlighting the strong scientific evidence supporting the impact of nutrition lifestyle changes – in bite sized challenges you can easily do each day to build new habits you can feel. The challenge runs from May 15 to May 29, 2024. If you are tired of feeling lost on what foods to eat, how to build a plate that reduces cancer risk, what foods are safe or not safe, want to ask your quick questions about if you are making the right choices to reduce cancer risk – this challenge is for you! I am running this special sale until May 8, so that you can get this amazing program for $40 off! 

F*ck Cancer Cookbook

Inside my F*ck Cancer Cookbook: 60 Nutrient Dense and Holistic Recipes for Taking Care of Your Body During and After Diagnosis, I talk about incorporating desserts as part of a healthy diet and provide mouthwatering recipes that both your taste buds and your body will love! Some featured recipes include Matcha Fudge, Raspberry-Vanilla Protein Mug Cake, Baked Caramel Apples, and Peanut Butter Berry Frozen Yogurt Bark. Click here to order your copy! 

Mini Cancer Prevention Guide

So you know not to fill your plate with nothing but glazed donuts, but what should the Cancer Prevention Plate look like? Snag this Mini Cancer Prevention Guide FREEBIE to get the quick basics about building a beautiful plate that reduces cancer risk! Let’s get you eating more foods and leading a cancer prevention lifestyle with certainty and ease! Whether you are starting, completing, or have finished cancer treatments, this guide is going to support you and your health goals to be your strongest self!

This blog is not intended as medical nutrition therapy, medical advice, or diagnosis and should in no way replace consultation or recommendation from your medical professional.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The internet is overflowing with myths around cancer. In this fresh and fast freebie, I’ll debunk five mistruths. Get the science-backed nutrition information and recommendations so you can eat more food with confidence after cancer!

Top Five Cancer Nutrition
Myths Busted!

Free Download

Get the freebie

© nutrition with nichole LLC 2021  |  policies & disclaimers  |  SITE & BRAND BY HELLO MAGIC STUDIo