4 ways to stop cheating (on your diet!)

By: Nicci Micco  |  Monday, February 2, 2009
My biggest diet downfall is tortilla chips. The problem isn’t so much that chips are unhealthy, it’s that I don’t stop at one serving. Or two. For a time, I tried to keep the chips out of the house but that wasn’t really fair to my husband, Jon. Plus, I missed them.
So I figured out that I could enjoy my chips without going overboard by pairing them with yummy, low-cal Chile Con Queso. It may seem counterintuitive that eating more would help me to eat less. But it works for me—and here’s why: Grabbing a couple of chips on the fly always results in eating a few more chips… until I’ve eaten three or four times what I should. But my chip-and-dip combo is a legitimate “snack.” I measure out a portion of the dip—a quarter cup, which has only 84 calories—and count out one serving of chips. Putting it all on a plate (where I can see it) makes me accountable in the same way that writing down what you eat does.
Not everyone has an issue with chips. For you, maybe it’s chocolate or ice cream. Everyone has her or his unique eating “triggers” (some food, some situations) but there are easy ways to stop cheating on your diet. Here are other triggers that I commonly encounter when I’m counseling people to lose weight. If your weakness is:
1. The television: It’s so easy to absent-mindedly eat when you’re in front of the TV. Solution: Portion-controlled snacks. You can have popcorn while you’re watching the movie; just pop a 100-calorie bag—or measure out 1 cup of Cheesy Popcorn (75 calories). When you hit the bottom of the bowl, you’re done.
2. Banana bread (or any kind of bread): You slice off a serving… and then another skinny sliver. Before you know it, you’ve eaten the whole loaf! Solution: Rather than making your bread in a loaf pan, make muffins or rolls. You’re more likely to stop with one.
3. Nuts: They’re full of good fats, fiber, protein—and calories. But when you’re eating almonds, walnuts and the like, it’s very easy to go overboard. Solution: Learn about how many nuts are in 1 ounce. Then, count out that many and put them in a small container or bag.
4. Cheese: Like nuts, cheese is caloric. Solution: Use a variation of my chip-and-dip trick. Have a small amount of cheese with something else to round it out. A serving of fruit is an obvious healthful choice.
Apply these strategies to your own eating triggers and I’ll bet that you, too, will find that you can eat what you love without going overboard.