Tutu kueh cut into half on display on a wooden block

Moderation, not Deprivation

Forbidden fruit is the sweetest. Depriving yourself of your favourite chendol only makes you desire it more. And when you’re within munching distance of it, you’re also more likely to overindulge. Cue the guilt and the vicious cycle.

The smart thing to do is to eat dessert in moderation, and balance your indulgences with a nutritious diet. Share a portion of chendol with some friends, instead of telling yourself that dessert is off-limits. This way, you’re less likely to guiltily guzzle two bowls of icy chendol in one sitting.

Besides moderation, another healthy eating tool is substitution. Let’s look at healthier alternatives to sugar, flour and fat.

Related: Makan Matters - What's a Healthy Diet?

Sweet Substitutions

Sugar gives you energy without nutrients, and eating too much sugar could bring about obesity and a higher risk of diabetes. Slash the sugar with these alternatives!


Tiny raspberry mini tarts dusted with icing sugar

Sweeteners such as stevia and xylitol contain fewer calories than sugar (fun fact: stevia’s calorie-free!). Plus, they won’t cause a spike to your blood glucose levels.

Use sweetener in desserts and baked goods that don’t depend on sugar for bulk or caramelisation, that magical browning process that releases an intense, nutty-and-slightly-bitter flavour.

How to Make Healthy Desserts

Adjust the amount of sweetener you use; they’re much sweeter than sugar.

Gradually decrease the amount of sweetener you use — train your palate, and learn to enjoy the subtler flavours in food!

Try this out! Use sweetener instead of rock sugar in Chinese sweet broiled soups.


Fresh crepes with strawberries and custard, dusted with icing sugar and chocolate syrup

Fruit are another alternative — raisins chopped in a food processor are a good substitute for sugar, especially if your recipe calls for bulk.

Or experiment by replacing sugar with chopped or pureed fruit. Give your desserts a flavour- and fibre-boost with fresh fruit like apples, pears, mango and pineapple.

How to Make Healthy Desserts

Fruit contain liquids, so you might have to reduce the amount of liquid you add when baking.

Try this out! Top homemade ice kacang with unsweetened fruit juice or puree, instead of sugary syrups.

Related: Fun Fruity Facts

Finishing Flour-ishes

Refined flour contains very few vitamins and minerals, which means your kuehs, cakes, and pastries aren’t very nutritious. Choose flours that pack more nutrients for better baked goods.

Wholegrain Flour

Freshly baked chocolate croissants

Wholegrain flours like rye flour, oat flour and wholewheat flour, on the other hand, give baked goods additional nutrients and fibre, and a nutty flavour. These flours will also give more bulk to your dessert so you feel fuller after eating them.

How to Make Healthy Desserts

Experiment with different ratios when substituting with wholegrain flours to get your desired flavour and texture. Start by replacing every cup of refined flour in the recipe with ¾ cup of wholewheat flour.

Preventing Diabetes: Eat Healthily

For more information on how to prevent diabetes, visit our Diabetes Hub.