Valentine’s Day Treats That Won’t Bust Your Diet

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Are you looking for the perfect sweet Valentine’s Day gift for yourself or a loved one, but don’t want to add too many extra calories? Sugar-free and low-sugar candies and sweets are a good option for those counting calories.

Chocolate should not make you feel guilty and may even help you get some nutrients you might be lacking. Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, which improve your blood pressure, lower your bad cholesterol and improves blood flow. The darker the chocolate, the more flavonoids it contains. Chocolates that consist of 70 percent cocoa are richest in flavonoids and usually less than 150 calories per serving. You can indulge in dark chocolate without the guilt. Unfortunately, milk chocolate does not offer the same guilt-free benefits and contains more calories.

Dried fruits are naturally sweet and contain plenty of vitamins and minerals. Nuts covered in dark chocolate are another good Valentine’s Day treat that won’t add a lot of calories to your diet. Some nuts can be high in fat, so check the label for calorie and fat information. Sugar-free jelly beans give you all the flavor your sweet tooth demands without the extra calories. Fresh fruits, such as strawberries, blueberries and pineapple are sweet and loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Prevent Food Cravings From Destroying Your Diet

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Many people get food cravings from time to time. Men and women both get food cravings. When you are trying to lose weight, succumbing to a food craving can undo a week’s worth of weight loss efforts. Foods that are most often craved by women in the United States are sweet, calorie-laden, fat-rich foods, such as chocolates, ice cream, cookies and cheesecake. Food craving is a complex interaction of the brain, the stomach and hormones. Food cravings may also be all in your head.
According to research by Eva Kemps and Marika Tiggemann of Flinders University, Australia, people who have food cravings also have vivid image of the food in their minds. The clearer and more vivid the image of the food, the stronger the craving. When mental resources are focused on the image and memory of a food, it’s hard to focus on other mental tasks, hence a craving for the food. It is possible that the opposite may also be true. We can use our brain power to reduce cravings. In an article by Science Daily, The Psychology of Food Cravings, it is reported that people who had food cravings could reduce the craving by thinking about other things. In one experiment volunteers who were craving a food were shown flickering images of black and white dots on a computer screen. Cravings were also reduced when people thought about other things, such as a place they like to visit, a particular smell they remember (not food related) or to picture a rainbow. When people concentrated their mental energy on something other than a food craving, the craving lessened. 
Another way to help reduce food cravings, which can lead to over-indulging in diet-busting foods and treats, is to prevent yourself from becoming too hungry. Never skip meals and always eat a healthy breakfast that includes protein and complex carbohydrates found in whole grains, low-fat milk and nutrient-rich fruits and juices. Carry healthy snacks with you so that you can munch on them before lunch and before dinner, if you get hungry. Fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains like granola bars are healthy alternatives to the candy bar sugar fix. 
For tips about how to curb food cravings, see:
WebMD, The Facts About Food Cravings, Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, 2005