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These foods are most likely to ruin your diet plan

Last updated on: January 22, 2010 14:43 IST

In your bid to drop weight or eat healthy, don't let these 'diet breakers' ruin your regime! We bring you the most popular foods that bring on cravings -- and substitutes that will ensure your calorie intake stays in control.

How strong is your will power when you are on a diet? The kind of diet you choose isn't the most important aspect of maintaining health -- it's whether or not you stick to it. Everyone who follows a diet -- whether to lose weight or to become healthier -- has times when it is tough to stay motivated and that is when it's easiest to just give up. Resisting tempting foods can be extremely difficult, especially at the beginning of the quest, but it is possible.

In order to stick to your healthy diet, it helps to know about foods that can threaten your cravings when the initial excitement and motivation of a new regime wears thin. Here is a list of those that can tempt you to break your diet -- 'diet breakers', so to speak -- and some ways to deal with them:

Pizza: Nowadays, we get a variety of pizzas with yummy toppings ranging from plain cheese to veggies to paneer to tandoori chicken. The pizza base can be of any form -- thin-crust, normal, deep-crust or even filled with cheese -- but they all are made with a lot of refined white flour (maida). White flour is devoid of fibre, and is stripped of essential vitamins, antioxidants and minerals during processing. They also increase triglyceride/ lipid (cholesterol) levels in the blood.

A better alternative would be tortillas (a flatbread made of either whole wheat or corn) available now with vegetable toppings. Authentic tortillas are low in fat and calories, but you do have to be careful as there are so many variables when it comes to purchasing them. However, if tortillas are not available, you can also make a homemade pizza using a wholewheat base along with lots of vegetables. If you also want cheese, use a low calorie variety.

Burgers: Burger, french fries and soft drinks -- a great combination, but not so great for your health. Burget patties are normally deep-fried in oil, which is generally high in saturated fats and trans fats. Even a vegetable patty would be high in calories and fat. Instead, choose a grilled patty with wholewheat bread, filled with a lot of raw vegetables. Another good choice would be sandwiches made of wholewheat or multigrain bread, which can also be grilled or had in the form of toast. The filling can be anything like raw vegetables, low-fat paneer or grilled chicken. Enjoy the same way as a burger, but in a healthy way.

Ice cream: Ice cream is a frozen dessert which is loved by every age group, from babies to the elderly. Ice creams are made from dairy products, such as milk and cream, and usually combined with fruit (fresh or dry) or other ingredients and flavours. Mostly, they contain sugar. Nowadays, though, there are some healthy choices and substitutes available for ice cream such as probiotic ice-creams, which help the intestine with digestion and low-calorie ice creams which are made from skimmed milk, sugar substitutes etc. So, the intention is to make you eat healthy and not to curb your craving.

Deep-fried foods: After a long day at work, anybody would love to sit in front of the TV and munch on snacks like potato chips, bhujiyas, pakodas, samosas etc. But we have no idea how much of oil and what kind of oil is being used while preparing these snacks. This is one of the main reasons why our cholesterol levels go high. So let's try something that does not need any oil to make, like roasted channa or moong, roasted vegetables, roasted wheat or plain murmura with lot of vegetables and less of sev bhujiya. You can munch on these safely, as they are quite nutritious.

Chocolates: The first expression that comes to mind is 'yummy!' But chocolates are made up of milk, butter, sugar, liquor etc, which makes them very high in calories. Dark chocolates are a good substitute, due to the presence of a higher percentage of cocoa extract and antioxidants, which help to flush out free radicals from the body. Eating dark chocolates in moderate amounts (a couple of pieces) helps to lower blood pressure and improves memory power.

Sweets/ mithai: When we speak about sweets many things come to mind, like ladoos, jalebi, halwa, rasgulla etc. There are many variety of sweets and they differ from place to place but the basic ingredients used for making them is more or less the same. It includes sugar, milk, ghee, white flour (maida) etc. These ingredients make sweets high calorie foods and they're tasty, of course. To make them healthier and lower the calorie content, slight variations and the substitution of ingredients is in order. For example, instead of sugar use sugar substitutes made from sucralose or stevia; instead of whole milk, use skimmed milk; and instead of ghee, use refined oil or palm oil. In this way you are not only cutting down the calories, but decreasing your risk of any health disorder.

Butter chicken: We all love it, don't we? It is very difficult to resist, but we tend to forget that the ingredients going into it like chicken and butter have a lot of fat and calories in it. A better choice would be something that is dry like tandoori, roasted or grilled chicken. These take in very less oil or no oil at all in the preparation, so it automatically cuts down the calories as well.

Cakes: Cake is often the dessert of choice for meals at ceremonial occasions, particularly weddings, anniversaries, and birthdays. They are loved by all the age groups. Common ingredients used to make cakes include white flour (maida), sugar, egg, milk and butter or margarine. These ingredients make cakes rich in fats, calories and sugar. By replacing ingredients, cakes can be made healthier and lower in calories. Sugar can be replaced by sugar substitutes made from sucralose or stevia and white flour (maida) with whole wheat flour. Instead of whole eggs, egg whites can be used. Yeast can be used for softening.

Chaats: Aloo chaat, dahi papdi, masala puri, samosa chaat etc are cheap and quick to make and we tend to consume them frequently. However, their high percentage of fat, sugar, and salt leads to obesity, diabetes, hypertension and other chronic illnesses. To avoid these, fried items over the chaat (like sev bhujiya) should be avoided and the better options are chaats like bhel, dal chaat, tomato puri, kheera puri etc.

Coffee: Coffee is the weakness of many individuals. Most people use coffee as an aid to keep themselves awake because of the effect of caffeine. While coffee itself barely has any calories, everything we add to it -- like sugar, milk, cream etc -- can pack on the unnecessary calories and fat. So, next time you have a craving, make a plain brewed coffee and add a bit of skimmed milk. Another better option is to switch to herbal tea or green tea. Herbal or green tea still has caffeine in it (though not as much), plus a bonus of antioxidants, making it a healthy caffeine fix. Similarly to coffee, milkshakes are rich in fat and sugar and low in fibre. So, the better choice would be fresh fruit juices or soya milk.

The above-mentioned food items should be seen as a treat, not as part of a regular diet. The absolute best way to beat a craving is to try and let time pass. Often that is all that is needed to lessen the craving. However, if you are not able to control your craving, then it is better to keep in mind healthy replacements so that you can fulfill your craving without adversely affecting any diet you are following. But remember to have consume replacements in moderation. else they won't remain replacements!

LifeMojo is a wellness company, helping people to live a healthier life. LifeMojo provides online and on phone nutrition consultation services to help you achieve your weight loss and fitness goals.