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Enjoy Chocolate and Lose Weight

From eDiets - The online diet, fitness, and healthy living resource

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Does the thought of "death by chocolate" sound pretty painless to you? Would you sacrifice your most valuable possession for a lifetime supply of scrumptious chocolate mousse? Is the thought of never indulging in another piece of white chocolate enough to bring you to tears?

Hi, my name is (fill in the blank) and I'm a chocoholic...

OK, so you can’t actually become addicted to chocolate. So why not live a little and eat chocolate -- even when you are on a diet?

Well, the reality of it is a little quickly becomes A LOT! The average person consumes 12 pounds of chocolate per year. And we all know that satisfying your sweet tooth on a regular basis can make the calories and fat go straight from your lips to your hips.

Studies show chocolate is the single most craved food in the United States. Of course, a die-hard chocolate lover can quickly point out the health benefits of nibbling on a piece now and then. For starters, chocolate contains high levels of phenolics, chemicals which may help lower the risk of heart disease.

Fortunately, you can have your chocolate cake and eat it too... provided you do it in moderation. Or even better, you can enjoy a daily chocolate fix if you follow the tried-and-true advice of renowned nutritionist Katherine Tallmadge.

Having spent more than 20 years in private practice, the Washington-based healthy eating expert has worked with thousands of clients. While names and faces may have changed, their love of all things chocolaty remains the same. From white to dark to milk to Swiss, there are few dieters that are ready to bid adieu to chocolate, Tallmadge says.

"One of the main reasons people are afraid to start a weight loss program is the fear of feeling deprived or giving up their favorite food," she tells eDiets. "Of course, you don’t have to -- you need to figure out how to fit your favorite foods into your lifestyle.

"You can’t tell a person to follow a rigid plan and no cheating. We don’t even use that word. You have to come up with practical solutions for everyday life. It’s not practical to tell a person they can never have chocolate or sweets again."

In her latest book, Diet Simple (Lifeline Press), Tallmadge explains that you cant expect to eat 800 calories of chocolate a day and still lose weight. That's just not going to happen. But you can opt for lighter alternatives that are just as satisfying. Tallmadge says that when it comes to decadent desserts you can save up to 380 calories a day simply by making a few smart substitutions.

Tallmadge warns determined dieters to beware of the fat-free trap. Sure, those Snackwell’s Devil’s Food Cookies may seem like a dieter's dream come true. But even they come at a price.

"The danger with fat-free advertising is that somehow deep in our subconscious fat free is a license to eat as much as you want," she says. "What people don’t realize is those things contain calories. It used to be that when people cut fat, they were also cutting calories. That’s why they lost weight. But with the newly manufactured fat-free food people are no longer going without."

Tallmadge says if you want a little chocolate every day, you should keep your snack under 150 calories. And that's exactly what you can do with her five tips.

But if you need the real deal -- chocolate cheesecake, a double fudge brownie, etc. -- you can indulge in her "Death by Chocolate" dessert splurge alternative. It works like this: save up all your chocolate cravings during the week, then splurge on one luscious chocolate extravaganza over the weekend. Tallmadge says you’ll be saving calories from your good behavior and satisfying your cravings without the guilt.

What if you’re a person who doesn’t know when to say when? Well, Tallmadge even has a solution for you.

"There are some people who really feel addicted to sweets. The more they eat, the more they crave and that little 150-calorie snack opens the door for them," she says. "What I find often happens is that you’ve been depriving yourself for so long that when you finally get around something, you can’t stop. If people allow themselves a treat, they won’t binge as much because they’ve allowed it.

"Once they realize they can have desserts and still lose weight, they feel less guilty and that reduction of guilt helps them not overeat. They get used to eating things in moderation rather than binging."

Common sense should tell you if you can’t resist the temptation, don’t bring a box of chocolates or a gallon of ice cream into your house. Your best bet is to sample one of Tallmadge’s five tricks for eating chocolate and losing weight.

1. Dark chocolate! A hunk of deep, dark chocolate smells luscious and the very first bite is very satisfying. Since it's so rich and flavorful, most cravings can be satisfied with very little. And dark chocolate is only about 110 calories an ounce!

2. Chocolate sundaes! Make a chocolate sundae with fresh fruit instead of ice cream. Lite or regular chocolate syrup is only 25 to 50 calories per tablespoon!

3. Old-fashioned chocolate "ice cream" floats! For hot summer nights, make a frosty chocolate float. Place a half-cup nonfat chocolate frozen yogurt in a glass and add your choice of diet soda. Our sundae serves up a cool, refreshing drink that satisfies your chocolate craving for about 110 calories.

4. Chocolate pudding pops! You can find a variety of low-calorie frozen chocolate pudding pops at your supermarket. Even Starbucks now offers a Frappuccino Mocha frozen pop that weighs in at only 120 calories.

5. Chocolate chips! For a sweet after-dinner snack or even a chocolaty breakfast treat, sprinkle semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips on your yogurt. One tablespoon of semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips packs just 50 calories.

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