Milton Stokes, MPH, RD, is a dietitian who has this to say about some of the foods forbidden for persons dieting:  “Thanks to fad diets that aren’t based in solid science, I often see clients avoiding foods that would help them control overeating or fight belly fat and ultimately lose weight.

“Worse still, having an off-limits list is like stuffing your cravings into a plastic bag.  Eventually it’s going to burst open, unleashing all your food urges at once, which leads to bingeing.”

The recommendation is to watch portions and choose high-quality, nutrient-rich foods.

Whole-wheat bread

Bread contains carbohydrates that boost brain chemicals, such as serotonin, that act to curb overeating.  The digestion of carbohydrates prompts the release of insulin that helps channel tryptophan to the brain where it gets converted into serotonin.

When serotonin levels are optimum, we have fewer cravings.

Breads made from whole-grain flour are most nutritious, but beware of imitations:

Bread labeled as Wheat Bread is made from white flour + coloring.

Breads labeled as Multi Grain are probably made with white flour.

The first ingredient on the breads’ labels will read “Wheat Flour,” which is white flour.

Unless the first ingredient says “Whole Wheat Flour,” you’re eating white bread, a high glycemic carb.

One serving of bread is one slice, a small roll, or half an English muffin.

Whole-grain pasta

Research done at the British Nutrition Foundation revealed that eating fluid-rich foods keeps us feeling fuller longer, compared to eating dry foods.  The carbs in pasta, like bread, help boost serotonin to avoid food cravings. dark chocolate

Select whole-grain pasta for the fiber, and add chicken or fish and a lot of vegetables.

Cook pasta only to the al dente stage.  If you cook it till it’s limp, the heat converts the complex carbohydrates into simple carbohydrates.  Think sugar.

One serving of pasta is one half cup, about the size of a scoop of ice cream.


When boiled or baked, the starch in potatoes absorbs water and swells.  Once cooled, portions of the starch crystallize into a form that resists digestion.

Resistant starch gets fermented in the large intestine and creates fatty acids that may block the body’s ability to burn carbs.  Instead, you burn fat.

One serving of potato is about the size of a fist.

Peanut Butter

Diets high in the mono-unsaturated fatty acids found in nuts prevent belly fat from accumulating, boost calorie burn and promote weight loss.

A recent study in the Harvard School of Public Health showed that women who eat one serving of nuts or peanut butter 2 or more times per week gain fewer pounds than women who don’t eat them.  One reason is that a snack of peanut butter helps you stay full for up to 2 ½ hours, compared to ½ hour for a carb only snack.

I (gently) indulge almost daily.

One serving of peanut butter is 2 tablespoons, about the size of a golf ball.


Cheese is an excellent source of calcium, which improves the body’s ability to burn fat and calories.  Insufficient calcium may trigger the release of calcitriol, a hormone that causes the body to store fat.

University of Tennessee researchers found persons on a low-calorie diet who included an extra 300-400 mg of calcium a day lost considerably more weight than those eating the same number of calories with less calcium.

No one is certain why, but eating calcium-rich foods is more effective than taking calcium supplements.

One serving of cheese is 2 ounces.  If you choose low-calorie cheeses, you’ll get health benefits for half the calories.

Dark Chocolate

Chocolate is the most commonly craved food; total deprivation of it causes people to binge on it.  According to British research, people who tried not to think about chocolate ate 2/3 more of it than people who talked about it.

So, be good to yourself.

Dark varieties are more satisfying than milk chocolate, so treat yourself to a couple of squares of high-quality dark chocolate instead of bingeing on junk chocolate bars.


Though fruit contains the natural sugar fructose, it won’t raise blood sugar levels like table sugar does.  Also, it’s high in water and fiber and low in calories.

In one study in Brazil, women who added 3 small apples to their meals lost 2 pounds in 10 weeks—without dieting.

The journal Obesity Reviews critiqued 16 separate studies and found that eating fruit is overwhelmingly associated with weighing less.

Include 3 servings of fresh fruit every day, but skip juices, which are high- calorie.

One serving of fruit is one cup.  Good choices are fresh melon at 50 calories, grapes at 60 calories, berries at 70 calories and citrus fruits at 75 calories.

Source:  Prevention, November, 2011  And other sources



  1. Great article. Very informative. You should check out Helped me out a lot.

  2. Jim–Thanks for your comment & your suggestion.

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