No, a good diet is an eating plan you can stick to through... well, through thick and thin.
My good pal, eDiets vice president of nutrition services Susan Burke, has this to say about our love -- and fear -- of chocolate.
Susan says, "Chocolate is not the diet-deadly food it's often made out to be. In fact, it can be a regular part of your diet... once you digest a few common-sense tips.
To get into the right frame of mind to write this column, Mr. Bad Food feasted on a few heaping spoonfuls of chocolate fudge swirl ice cream. Relax. I didn't go off the deep end diet-wise. Rather I yummed my way through a half-cup serving of this smooth and creamy CarbWatchers dream churned out by Labrada Nutrition.
You may recognize the name Labrada... as in bodybuilding legend Lee Labrada. The holder of 22 bodybuilding championships, including the Mr. Universe title, has created an ice cream that's out of this world. And at 2 grams of net carbs per serving, it is an awesome treat for followers of Atkins or one of the other low-carb eating plans.
Before I melt back into today's topic, chocolate 'n dieting, I will add that Labrada's line of gourmet flavors also includes butter pecan, dulce de leche, cookies and cream, and good old vanilla. You can go to www.labrada.com for more info.
The good news about an old favorite:
A bar of milk chocolate gives around 15% of you daily calcium requirement.
Chocolate is less likely to cause tooth decay than other sweets.
Although chocolate is one of the most craved foods, particularly by women, it is not addictive.
An ounce of dark chocolate provides over a tenth of our daily magnesium requirements. We need magnesium for efficient calcium absorption, proper muscle function and the production of serotonin, among hundreds of other functions.
If your sweet tooth and taste buds need more convincing, check out the following goodies from American Dietetic Association spokesperson Katherine Tallmadge.
"And while chocolate has benefits, just like other beneficial high fat foods such as nuts, its high calorie content means you're best off enjoying it in moderation, if a trim figure is something you desire!"
1. Dark chocolate! A hunk of deep, dark chocolate smells lusciously chocolatey, and the first bite is very satisfying. Since it's so rich and the flavor so strong, you can be satisfied with very little. At 110-120 calories per ounce, that's more satisfaction for less than half the calories of a full-size milk chocolate bar with peanuts!
2. Frozen yogurt! Try a half-cup frozen chocolate yogurt (100 calories) topped with a half-cup sliced fresh strawberries (approximately 20 calories).
3. Chocolate popsicles! You can find a variety of low-calorie chocolate popsicles or frozen chocolate pudding pops in your supermarket's freezer. Starbucks now offers a Frappucchino Mocha frozen pop that weighs in at only 120 calories!
4. Chocolate puddings! Look for the fat-free varieties and indulge. Many low-cal varieties are just about 120 calories per serving.
5. Hot chocolate! On chilly nights, cuddle up with a steaming cup of hot cocoa: Heat 6 ounces skim milk (68 calories), 1/2 Tbsp. cocoa (10 calories), 1/2 Tbsp. sugar (24 calories) in a pan. Add a dash of cinnamon and/or vanilla extract. Heat while stirring constantly, and you'll warm yourself up with just 102 calories!
6. Old-fashioned chocolate "ice cream" floats! For hot summer nights, make a frosty chocolate float: Place 1/2-cup nonfat chocolate frozen yogurt in a glass, and add your choice of diet soda to fill the glass. Each serving has approximately 110 calories, depending on the frozen yogurt used. Serves up a cool, refreshing drink that satisfies your chocolate craving and beats the heat.
7. Pure chocolate! Don't waste the calories on the cookie dough surrounding the chocolate chips or on the almonds in the chocolate bar! Have a few squares of pure milk chocolate instead! One miniature chocolate bar (about 7 grams) is only about 36 calories.
8. Chocolate chips! Sprinkle semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips on your yogurt for a sweet after-dinner snack. One tablespoon of semi-sweet chips is 52 calories. Milk chocolate chips have 54 calories per tablespoon.
9. Chocolate jimmies! Sprinkle chocolate jimmies on your banana, or over vanilla yogurt for a chocolatey breakfast treat. At only 20 calories per teaspoon, it's a guilt-free way to indulge your chocolate craving
10. Chocolate syrup! Make a chocolate sundae with fresh fruit instead of ice cream. Regular chocolate syrup has about 50 calories per tablespoon. Light chocolate syrup has only 25 calories per tablespoon.
11. For Women Only: Chewy calcium supplements like Viactiv come in delicious "milk chocolate" and "mochaccino" flavors. Each piece supplies 500 milligrams of calcium and has just 50 calories!
12. The "Death by Chocolate" dessert splurge alternative! Save up all your chocolate cravings during the week, then splurge on one luscious chocolate extravaganza on the weekend.
Hungry for more great ways to indulge your craving? Perhaps Mr. Bad Food can tempt you with one of these guilt-free choices. Aw, go ahead... all 10 of these chocolate treats weigh in at 100 calories or less!
4 Hershey's Kisses (100 calories)
1 cup diet hot cocoa and 1 chocolate graham cracker (80 calories)
1 JELL-O fat-free chocolate pudding snack (100 calories)
1 Quaker Chocolate Crunch popcorn cake (60 calories)
1/2 cup fat-free chocolate frozen yogurt (100 calories)
20 chocolate-covered raisins (80 calories)
1/2 cup General Mills Cocoa Puffs cereal (60 calories)
2 SnackWell's Devil's Food Cookie Cakes (100 calories)
2 bite-size York Peppermint Patties (100 calories)