How to Cheat on Your Diet—and Still Lose Weight

PHOTO: Try these tips for guilt-free indulgences when you diet.
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Who says you have to deprive yourself of all deliciousness to stay fit? You can enjoy foods you love without adding pounds. Here's how to pull it off, from nutritionist Marissa Lippert, RD, author of The Cheater's Diet.

How to Cheat on Your Diet - And Still Lose Weight

Eat treats

"Allow for two mouth-watering, indulgent sweets each week," Lippert says. "And focus on quality—a scoop of really great real ice cream, a rich cookie or coffee drink." Budget about 200 to 300 calories for each.

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How to Cheat on Your Diet - And Still Lose Weight

Dine out

Give yourself two nice "splurge" meals a week. "This is your time to have the non-diet foods you thought were completely off limits—such as slices at your favorite pizzeria, or a filet with mashed potatoes," she says. The only caveat: Use portion control. Limit yourself to two small slices of pizza with a side salad, order small cuts of meat, and eat just half of creamy, cheesy sides.

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How to Cheat on Your Diet - And Still Lose Weight

Give yourself cocktail tickets

You can still enjoy wine, beer, or a Cosmopolitan—but you'll need to cut back if you're trying to lose a pound or two a week. Figure out your weekly average, and cut that by one-fourth; that's your maximum number of drinks each week.

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How to Cheat on Your Diet - And Still Lose Weight

Savor some chocolate

You can enjoy some every single day: Have two or three tasting squares—about 75 calories worth of chocolate. And buy the really good stuff (explore some brands to try at "Choose great-tasting chocolate, and you'll be able to eat smaller amounts and be satisfied," Lippert says.

How to Cheat on Your Diet - And Still Lose Weight

Go ahead—add on to your salad

With all the extra toppings, restaurant salads can easily add up to 700, 800, even 900 calories. But who wants a bowl of naked lettuce? Instead, load a plate (not a bowl) with dark greens, some protein to fill you, and whatever fresh fruit and veggies you like. Cheat by adding two or three one-tablespoon servings of the fattening stuff (dried fruit, nuts, seeds, cheese, bacon crumbles, croutons, fried tortilla strips, or avocado). Dress your salad with one tablespoon of a real vinaigrette or oil and vinegar—fat helps satisfy you and unlocks some nutrients in your salad. Now, dig in.

How to Cheat on Your Diet - And Still Lose Weight

Reach for the breadbasket

If bread is your weakness, eat the best: If the basket on the table is filled with stale, cold slices or squishy sandwich-style stuff, you've got a good reason to ask the waiter to take it away: That bread won't make you happy. But when you're offered a hearty, artisan loaf with a dense texture and crisp crust, treat yourself to a small slice, says Lippert. Gild it with a teaspoon of olive oil or butter and enjoy every wonderful bite.

How to Cheat on Your Diet - And Still Lose Weight

Party with a plan

No need to camp out by the crudités during a party. Scan the buffet, making note of your favorite hors d'oeuvres. Go back, and choose only two or three higher-calorie appetizers. (Want chips and dip? Count out seven chips, and dip—don't scoop—into the guacamole.) Fill up on veggies and fresh fruit, and save room for one sweet treat at the end. You deserve it!

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