The word “diet” has come to embody a negative connotation synonymous with “restricting” or “starving”. This may be, in part, due to the fact that many fad diets are based on principles of cutting calories and restricting the consumption of certain foods. Just because you are dieting, however, doesn’t mean that you need to starve yourself.
Healthy weight loss is about making healthy choices, not about drastically reducing your calorie intake. Your body requires a certain number of calories in order to function so an extreme cut in calories could be very harmful.
Rather than restricting the number of calories you consume on a daily basis, try making healthier choices in your snacks and meals. These healthy foods are great for dieters because they are good for your body while making you still feel like you are indulging in a tasty treat.
A fruit smoothie is the perfect way to indulge your sweet tooth while staying on your diet. Fruits are naturally sweet and lower in calories than cookies and candy – they are also a good source of healthy vitamins and minerals.
You can make a fruit smoothie using whatever fruit you like and you can add your favorite fruit juice to blend it. For a creamier smoothie, add a banana or a half cup of nonfat yogurt. To thicken your smoothie, add a few ice cubes or use frozen fruit.
Recommended Ingredients: strawberries, banana, orange juice, raspberries, blueberries, mango, pineapple, chopped apple, lemon juice, honey
Not only is Greek yogurt low in calories, but it is also a good source of protein. One serving of Greek yogurt has between 100 and 120 calories, about 20 grams of protein and less than 10 grams of sugar. To get the most out of this snack, make yourself a Greek yogurt parfait in a fancy dessert glass with a cup of mixed berries and a drizzle of honey. You can even add a sprinkling of chopped nuts to give your treat a little crunch or a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to up the fiber and protein content.
Recommended Toppings: sliced fruit, mixed berries, chopped nuts, ground flaxseed, honey, ground cinnamon , peanut butter
If you are looking for a sweet treat to indulge in on a hot day, try a handful or two of frozen grapes. Grapes are naturally sweet and they are a great snack to indulge in if you are trying to wean yourself off sugary treats and candy. Because grapes are lower in fiber and higher in fructose than other fruits you should enjoy this treat in moderation. Try enjoying a handful of frozen grapes with a few toasted almonds or a handful of shelled pistachios for a well-rounded snack.
Whole Grain Cereal
Rather than indulging in sugary cereals or high-calorie granola, have a small bowl of whole grain cereal to satisfy your urge to snack. Cereals made with whole grains are rich in fiber and other nutrients that are good for your body.
Eating the cereal with a half cup of nonfat milk or almond milk will also provide you with some of the calcium your body needs. If plain cereal doesn’t strike your fancy, try slicing a banana on top of it or stir in a teaspoon of raw honey. A half cup of sliced strawberries will give your cereal a little sweetness to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Recommended Cereals: KashiGoLean Crunch, Fiber One Bran Cereal, Fiber One Honey Clusters, Quaker Oatmeal Squares, Raisin Bran, Shredded Wheat
While chowing down on a candy bar might not be the best way to lose weight, you can still indulge in a little bit of chocolate now and then. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and lower in sugar than most milk chocolate. If you have a craving for chocolate that simply won’t go away, indulge in a square of dark chocolate.
Natural Nut Butters
If you are craving something smooth and salty, a tablespoon of natural peanut butter of almond butter might do the trick. Try spreading a tablespoon of natural nut butter on a stalk of celery for a crunchy snack that will satisfy your hunger.Celery is a good source of fiber while also being low in calories which makes it a perfect pairing for peanut butter, but apple slices are a good alternative if you do not like celery.
You can even make your own nut butter at home by blending raw nuts in a food processor until smooth – you can even add a teaspoon of honey to give your nut butter a little sweetness. Keep in mind that nut butters are fairly high in calories because they are made from nuts so do not overindulge in this snack.
Recommended Nut Butters: peanut butter, almond butter, sun butter, cashew butter.
When you are in the mood for a sweet, cold treat an all-natural Popsicle is a good way to go. While many fruit juices are made from concentrate or artificially sweetened, popsicles made from all-natural fruit juice are a healthy choice.
A Popsicle takes a while to eat which prevents the sugar from rushing to your blood stream – it also means that you will be consuming fewer calories than you would if you were guzzling a glass of juice. You can even make your own popsicles at home using fresh or frozen fruit.
Recommended Brands: Edy’s Fruit Bars, 365 Frozen Fruit Bars, Trader Joe’s Fruit Floes, Ciao Bella Sorbet Bars, Breyer’s Pure Fruit Bars
A healthier alternative to traditional baked potatoes, sweet potatoes are a great choice for dieters. Not only are sweet potatoes rich in fiber, but they also have a sweet, indulgent flavor that makes them a delicious treat. Sweet potatoes are also rich in Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, iron and magnesium. Try sautéing chopped sweet potatoes as a healthy side dish for a light dinner or puree cooked sweet potatoes with banana, a teaspoon of maple syrup and a dash of cinnamon for an indulgent dessert.
Fish and Seafood
Seafood, especially white-meat fish and shrimp, is a dieter’s dream because it is loaded with flavor, packed with protein and low in calories. A 6-ounce serving of halibut has about 35 grams of protein with only about 180 calories. If you are in the mood to indulge in something fancy, try whipping up a batch of shrimp and vegetable stir-fry or broil a halibut fillet seasoned with garlic, chili powder and lemon. To make your meal extra special, serve it with a spoonful of mango chutney or citrus salsa.
Recommended Foods: halibut, haddock, shrimp, lingcod, mahimahi, roughy, sea bass, snapper, tilapia, yellowfin tuna, scallops, crab, lobster
Dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt are an excellent source of calcium which is important even if you are not on a diet. Unfortunately, many dairy products are also high in calories so, if you want to indulge, go for a low-fat option. If you are looking for a simple snack, reach for a stick of low-fat string cheese or a cup or cottage cheese.
A glass of dark chocolate soy milk or fruit-flavored yogurt may also be a good option. Just keep in mind when you are evaluating your options that many flavored yogurts have a high sugar content and processed cheeses often contain artificial ingredients – go for an all-natural product if you can find one.
Recommended Options: low-fat string cheese, nonfat yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, chocolate or vanilla almond milk, flavored soy milk, low-fat frozen yogurt
The key to success with any diet is to simply make smart choices. You do not necessarily have to cut out all of your favorite foods or refrain from indulging once in a while – you just have to go about it the right way. Be conscious of the food choices you make and try to keep your fridge stocked with healthy options.
Keep a fiber bar in your purse for those times when you get the urge to snack while running errands and keep a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter so you aren’t tempted to go to the pantry for that box of cookies. If you provide yourself with plenty of healthy options, you are more likely to make a healthy choice when it comes to meals and snacks.