Sometimes it seems like the secret to successful dieting hinges on just a few seconds of your day. You've been so good: writing in your food journal, sticking to the plan, passing up the office snacks. Then it happens. It may be that moment when you get home from work, or just a fleeting thought while you're watching TV. You're craving something, and you're craving it now.
Don't let a few seconds ruin the hard work you've done all day, week or month. Satisfy your need to chew, savor or sip with one of these foods and drinks that are either calorie-free or extremely close. With numbers this low, you can add these free foods to any diet plan without sabotaging your hard-earned weight loss, and satisfy your craving until you regain control again.
1. Water: Try sipping water immediately, as soon as you feel a craving. The full feeling might make the hunger pass, and you'll be adding to the eight glasses a day dieters should be getting. Add a squeeze of lemon, lime or orange juice for extra zest.
2. Sugar-Free Gum: Sometimes what you really have is an urge to chew, especially if you've been living on soups and diet shakes. Pop a piece of sugar-free gum (usually 5 calories or less) and give your jaws a much-needed workout.
3. Hard Candy and Suckers: One piece of hard candy can last a long time, keeping you from eating foods that could create havoc for your weigh-in. Look for sugar-free versions for extra-low calories (usually 5-10), and pick a flavor you find enticing.
4. Flavored Coffee and Tea: Coffee beans that have the flavor infused into them have no calories, as opposed to the waist-expanding flavored syrups in your local coffee shop. Try a chocolate-flavored variety to satisfy a sweet tooth, or a calming herbal tea in soothing mint.
5. Raw Veggies - When what you want is some serious crunch, slice up a plate of vegetables. Pick fresh vegetables with extremely low calories: celery, cucumbers and cabbage, for example. Add a zero calorie seasoning that you crave, whether it's garlic, Cajun spices or balsamic vinegar, and you'll have a satisfying snack with no fear of fat.
6. Dill Pickles - What could be more perfect when you want something zesty, crunchy and salty all in one? One big dill pickle spear has only five calories. Be sure and avoid sweet pickles -- the added sugar adds calories as well.
7. Clear Soup - One cup of most bouillon-type soups is about 10 calories. The hot steam from a bowl of chicken, beef or vegetable broth has a relaxing effect, and it has the added benefit of taking a while to eat with a spoon. By the time you reach the bottom, you'll feel better, and your craving will be forgotten.
8. Granita - A recipe with zero calories? No, we're not kidding. Freeze your favorite no-calorie beverage in ice cube trays, pop into the food processor, blend, and voila! You have a frozen Italian dessert to savor. Experiment with flavors until you find one you love. How about raspberry tea?
The next time the hungries hit you and you've used your calorie allotment for the day, don't cave in to a junk food frenzy. Instead, indulge that craving with a no-risk treat. Salty, crunchy, savory or sweet, there's something to suit your appetite while keeping you on the fast track to weight loss.