It’s been a pretty fascinating dieting week. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I learned so many tips and secrets about how to stay low on calorie intake. As such, I thought I’d share a few of them here in case you’re in the same (heavy) boat as me.
Cheat No. 1: Laughing Cow Creamy Lite Swiss cheese wedge
Full disclosure: I love cheese and bread more than just about anything. But if you are familiar with dieting at all, you know those items are among the first to get put on the Bad list when you’re trying to trim the fat. In the past, I’ve tried to supplement my love with lite string cheese and, tasting nothing, wanted to cry into my cup (of broth).
But learning that a wedge of Laughing Cow was just 30 calories (or 1 Weight Watchers point), I happily pranced to the grocery store to buy a pie of them. I’m happy to report, they are terrific! Definitely creamy and spreadable. I pair a wedge with rice crackers (also ridiculously low in cals) at 5 p.m., my weakest part of the day. No, it’s not Triscuits and extra sharp cheddar, but, honestly, it’s close.
Cheat No. 2: Fiber One 70-calorie chocolate fudge brownie
Look, guys, look. I am a skeptic when it comes to just about any pre-packaged baked good. But this one really does satisfy those after-dinner cravings when you feel ready to scrap it all and dive into a boat of banana split. While I’m only obsessed with the calorie count and the fact that these are actually quite good, apparently they’re also high in fiber, so bonus I guess.
Extra tip: I’ve been told these brownies are good topped with fat-free Reddi Whip as well. Something to consider.
Cheat No. 3: Uncle Matt’s Ultimate Immune Juice
It’s weekday dry January at our house, which means I’ve been looking for just about anything to pair with sparkling water during happy hour. You know what? This juice is actually really tasty and, thanks to elderberry, pretty to look at in a glass. Half a cup of it (which is all you need with sparkling water) is also only 55 calories. Plus, there are extra vitamins C, D and Zinc packed in there, which is probably a good idea these pandemic days.
Cheat No. 4: lite coconut milk
I was pretty laissez-faire about which coconut milk I was adding to my Thai and Indian curries. I’d tried lite before but then thought full-fat was probably more natural. Well, more natural or not, I had no idea how big of a difference it makes calorie-wise to go lite on this stuff. And honestly, I have never been able to tell the difference in flavor between reg and lite once they’re in the dishes. It’s lite for me from here on out.
Cheat No. 5: Skinny Pop caramel popcorn
Yeah, I said caramel corn. And for 100 cals per cup? What a terrific little treat when you’re feeling weak and tired. I also love the white cheddar flavor.
Cheat No. 6: Fairlife protein shakes
Fairlife has changed this lactose-intolerant girl’s life, so I was admittedly pretty primed to love these. But when I learned they came in chocolate flavor, I was sold. They’re also apparently good paired with cold-brew coffee.
Cheat No. 7: Dave’s Killer thin sliced bread with 21 whole grains and seeds
Let’s face it, I’m not going to make it for long in this life if I can’t eat bread at all. This is a nice, tasty option that doesn’t break the diet bank. And it’s packed with natural, organic ingredients, which is nice. God knows, that is one danger when it comes to diet foods: they steer you pretty quickly to pre-packaged, processed stuff, which is definitely not top on my list of priorities.
Cheat No. 8: rice cakes with peanut butter and sliced strawberries
It’s no PB&J, but when you’re at your weakest point of the day, this is a fun-feeling pick-me-up that doesn’t let you down.
Cheat No. 9: mini Babybel light cheese
Granted I’m the type of person who has never tired of the fun that comes from “cutting” the red wax off these things, so I’m already in a good mood when I get to this snack. But honestly, these rounds taste really quite good. Yes, you can tell the difference between them and the full-fat variety, but it’s not painful.
Finally, I’ll leave you with this tidbit, which I read as part of the New York Times’ Eat Well Challenge. In an illuminating article called “Try Intuitive Eating to Break the Diet Cycle,” they describe the “what the hell” effect, which is common in people (like me) who are regularly on a diet. In one experiment, researchers gave milkshakes to a variety of participants and then asked them to rate cookies, cakes or nuts. The results were interesting.
“After filling up on milkshake, most of the testers ate less. But the dieters in the group did the opposite. If they had the shake first, they actually ate more during the taste test. It appeared that because they had ‘blown’ their diet anyway, they decided they might as well just eat more food.”
This describes me so exactly I felt like I actually was one of those dieting participants. Behavior to be on the lookout for from here on out.
Anyways, I hope you find these little cheats and tips helpful. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any more wisdom to impart.