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Diet Foods Anyone Can Love

If you want to lose weight, but dread eating food labeled "low-fat" or "no calories," CBS News Health Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay has a solution in her monthlong series, The Great American Weight Loss, that won't deprive you of the foods you love.

The Excuse of the Day is: Diet foods don't taste good.

To make diet food taste good, all you need to do is change your definition of what it is, says nutritionist Cathy Nonas.

Nonas, a dietitian with the Van-Itallie Center for Nutrition and Weight Management at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York, says dieting should not become a chore, but a pleasurable eating experience.

The reason most people think of diet foods as unpalatable is that many processed "diet food" items have had all the fat taken out of them. However, they are often loaded with calories from carbohydrates that defeat their purpose.

On the other hand, many natural foods are actually delicious, low in calories, and full of vitamins.

"There are many foods out there deemed 'diet' simply because they're good for you," Nonas explains. Most of these include fruits and vegetables.

"We negotiate everything we do all the time, so we just have to negotiate our meals," she adds.

For people who are seeking a middle ground between the "diet foods" they dread and the foods that they favor, Nonas offers three examples of meal plans:

High-fat foods:

  • 12 oz. cooked steak
  • A bowl of ice cream
  • Sour cream and butter
  • French bread
  • Blue cheese dressing

Diet Foods:
  • Can of tuna or portion of cottage cheese
  • Ice milk
  • Non-fat plain yogurt
  • Rice cakes or melba toast
  • Diet salad dressing

Acceptable foods:
  • Baked potato
  • Vegetables, such as string beans or broccoli
  • Salad
  • Italian dressing

In the diet food area, you can take out the rice cakes and melba toast, if you don't like them. Also, the ice milk and cottage cheese can be substituted.

What you want to do is reduce portion size. If you love steak, that's okay - just eat a smaller serving. Add more vegetables to your meal and you will get plenty of nutrients and feel full.

Instead of bread and butter, have a baked potato with some yogurt and some sour cream mixed together.

For dessert, instead of a big bowl of ice milk, reduce your portion of ice cream to one scoop on a cone.

Negotiated Meal:

  • 3 oz. cooked steak
  • baked potato with a topping consisting of half sour cream and half yogurt
  • boiled osteamed string beans or broccoli
  • salad
  • For dressing, you can use a little bleu cheese mixed in with vinegar and used sparingly.
  • a single scoop of ice cream on a cone
Nonas says that dieting is all about re-learning how to eat so as to maintain a current weight or lose pounds, as necessary. Instead of only eating diet foods or depriving yourself of your favorite treats, make small adjustments over time.

The Great American Weight Loss Tip of the Day is: Plan meals ahead of time.

Don't bother with pre-packaged and frozen diet foods. If you decide what you're going to eat, you can renegotiate old eating habits and still enjoy some of your favorite foods.

Don't be afraid of eating the foods you like - just cut down on portions, (portion size should be about the same as the palm of your hand) and exercise.

Reported by Dr. Emily Senay