Oversized No More

Can Chocolate Help You Lose Weight?

Are you a chocoholic who can’t give up the sweet stuff, even for a day? Maybe you think you can’t have any chocolate at all when you are on a diet? Well, think again.

I have lost 61 pounds in the past two years, and along the way, have eaten chocolate on a regular basis. Not every day, but when I really need to have it, I do.

The key to keeping on your diet and having chocolate is moderation. There are a few little tricks I’ve learned along the way so I can have my sweets and diet, too.

Studies have shown that chocolate lifts your mood and make you feel better. So why not choose chocolate? In moderation, of course.

Give yourself a treat

Dieting can be hard work. Why not have a little goodie to look forward to? I often find myself reaching for something sweet at certain “danger hours” during the day, around 4 p.m. and at 11 p.m. So why not satisfy the craving?

I’ve found if I deny myself something I really want, it makes the craving all the stronger. Deny the craving long enough and you may eventually break down and binge on the forbidden snack.

So I build the treat into my diet plan, rather than just wishing it would go away.

I do try to only have chocolate or another sweet once a day. More than that and it defeats the purpose of being something special.

Have a stash of lower-calorie chocolates on hand

Rather than just make an impulse buy of a candy bar (or two), make sure you have a few at home that are lower in calories for those times when you absolutely, positively must have a little bit of chocolate.

Look for chocolate bars that are crunchy inside, such as Twix or Kit Kat bars. They are usually lower in calories than gooey chocolate bars.

Try to keep your chocolate treat at around 100 to 150 calories per day, so be sure to read the nutritional information on the wrapper and see if you’re staying within your limit.

Others I like are the Hershey’s with Caramel Chocolate-Dipped Cookies (80 calories per cookie) and Hershey’s ‘n More Caramel Cookie Bars (110 calories each). Also, when Easter rolls around, look for the malted milk eggs. You can eat eight of them and it’s only 100 calories.

Something I stockpile right during the after-Christmas sales are the Hershey’s Chocolate Mint Candy Canes – only 60 calories apiece.

I realize not everyone can keep chocolate goodies around the house and not eat them all at once. But I have been able to keep myself from buying high-calorie chocolates at the store by saying to myself, “I think I’ll just wait until I get home and have one from my stash.”

Sit down and make it an occasion

Rather than gobbling your chocolate in the car or in your bedroom, bring it into the open. Sit at the table and really enjoy it. Eat it slowly. Have a cup of tea or coffee, or maybe a glass of low-fat milk with it. Savor the moment.

How about a mocha?

If you’re out and about and find yourself craving a mocha or a cup of hot chocolate, then do it. Just be sure to order the non-fat, no-whip version. If you choose a non-fat, no whipped cream mocha from Starbucks rather than one made with whole milk, you’ll cut out a third of the calories. The skinny mocha weighs in at just 170.

What about cake?

Well … here’s what I do. If I’m really craving a piece of chocolate cake, I go to a nice bakery and buy a piece of cake. Just one piece – not the whole thing. I sit down in the bakery and enjoy it there. Thoroughly.

I know that if I were to make myself a chocolate cake at home, that would be dangerous for me. I would probably eat about half of it. By going out and having a single piece of really good cake, I’ve satisfied the craving and made sure it stopped there.

And this is not something that I could do every day or every week. This would be an occasional treat – once a month or less. Because that piece of cake is probably a few thousand calories.

But every once in a while – well, you just gotta have it.

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