Is it worse to eat dessert or drink alcohol?

By Marni Dixit February 1, 2018
Girl eating cake

Ah, the age-old question of “Should I eat that cake or drink that wine?”

Let’s be honest, both dessert and alcohol have been demonised in the wellness world (despite them being two of the greatest things on the planet), but enjoying both in moderation helps keep you sane when trying to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. 

We know that sugar and alcohol aren’t great for us, but which is worse?

We keep hearing how sugar can be likened to a drug and is addictive, but the same can obviously be said about alcohol, it’s a toxin that’s difficult to metabolise in the liver. And both of these can significantly contribute to weight gain. 

Most trainers will tell you that you need to get rid of alcohol completely, but a lot of diets will allow you the occasional glass of red wine but dessert is off the menu.

Lisa Eberly, a dietician, told PopSugar that sweets are actually more addictive than alcohol, adding that a glass of wine has fewer calories and sugar than the average dessert:

"First, a glass of wine, though it has calories and sugar, has less calories and sugar on average than a standard dessert… Alcohol has less fat than dessert, and this is a lingering trend from when low-fat diets were 'in.'"


She adds that for many people it’s easy to stick to one glass of wine, but when it comes to desserts it’s easy to eat one brownie, then another and another. We must admit, it’s not always easy to stick to just one glass of wine either, but hey, that’s just us!

Eberly did bring up the fact that there’s less social stigma when you avoid dessert as opposed to alcohol:

“At a party or dinner, if you're skipping alcohol, people would either notice, or you'd think people are noticing." 

“Within minutes, Aunt Sue or your bestie might be questioning if you were pregnant!" 

“However, skipping dessert is less noticeable and more 'mainstream,' as most would understand avoiding unhealthy food choices.”

She did, however, explain the reason alcohol can contribute to weight gain is if it gets a little out of control.

"The liver has a strict 'to-do list' — first, process out any chemicals or toxins in the body (everything from hard drugs to Splenda and artificial ingredients), then, process alcohol, and last, fat. So, if you have toxins or alcohol in your system, your liver will take care of those before getting to fat." 

Kristen Wiig drinking wine

This also applies to artificial ingredients that might be in a highly processed and refined dessert. 

A way around this on the dessert front would be to choose a more natural or homemade dessert with whole ingredients – this would be healthier than alcohol and a processed dessert. 

So if you’re still confused about which one to choose, we would suggest a homemade, natural dessert or an alcoholic drink without high-sugar mixers. 

"A natural, homemade dessert in a reasonable portion size is better than alcohol. A simple glass of wine is better than a highly processed or large portion of dessert. It is all about making the most whole, real food and drink choices.”

Image: Getty