Eat chocolate and lose weight
If you're a self-confessed chocoholic, going cold turkey is only going to end in tears. You might last for a few days, or even a couple of weeks. But sooner or later you'll indulge – and you won't be able to stop. Instead, treat yourself to a little bit of good chocolate every day. Buy a bar of dark chocolate – at least 70% cocoa solids – and have two squares every day. After a week or two, milk chocolate will taste too sugary and sweet and you'll be well on the way to conquering your addiction.
According to New York nutritionist Esther Blum, author of Secrets of Gorgeous (Chronicle, £8.99) eating low fat spread or margarine can actually make you gain weight. This is because the body registers them as a carbohydrate, instead of a fat. Opt for a little bit of butter instead, because saturated fats protect the liver from toxins and aid absorption of omega-3s – they also help you to feel full for longer.
Harley Street hypnotherapist Susan Hepburn, author of Hypnodiet (Piatkus, £10.99) is adamant that diets don't work. Her book and CD will help you to change your eating habits for good, without resorting to faddy diets or feeling deprived. As a result, no foods are banned – but if you've been practising Susan's hypnosis exercises you'll find that after a couple of bites of cake you'll be satisfied and won't want to eat any more.
Eating too much – even if you're eating healthy food – can make you put on weight, or make it difficult to lose it. But that doesn't mean you should be eating child-size portions or relying on diet ready meals that never fill you up. The Diet Plate (£19.99, www.thedietplate.com) is a full-size dinner plate designed to show you exactly how much you need of each food group without weighing or measuring. You can eat any food you like, and fill up the rest of your plate with unlimited salad or vegetables. Provided you follow the markings on the plate, you'll lose between 1-4 pounds per week even if you can't resist curries and chips!
It sounds to good to be true, but you really can tuck into a pizza without piling on the pounds. The Pizza Express Leggera pizza is designed to contain around 500 calories – around a third less than a typical pizza. The centre of the pizza dough has been removed and replaced with a salad – and the tasty toppings are low in saturated fat but high in flavour. Choose from chicken and spinach, ham and peppers or fresh veggies – and there's even low cal wine and desert to go with it.
If you want to lose weight and keep it off, then a balanced diet is the key. So we're not saying that you should eat chips every day, but you shouldn't avoid them, either. Oven chips or homemade potato wedges – thickly sliced, par boiled, brushed with olive oil and baked – won't pile on the pounds. Even better, make sweet potato chips, bake them until crisp and serve with ketchup or salsa.
Don't think that the cinema has to become a snack-free zone if you're watching your weight. Popcorn is a good, healthy snack – provided that you opt for the salted version, not the sweet, buttery one, and choose the smallest size. Popcorn is high in fibre, and contains high levels of polyphenols, an antioxidant, which is known to protect the heart and reduce the risk of cancer.
Most of us assume that muesli is a dieter's friend – but it's not. Many ready-mixed varieties are packed with nuts and dried fruit and can contain as much as 600 calories per bowl. Instead, start the day with a couple of slices of lean, grilled bacon, a poached egg and a slice of toast and you'll stay full until lunch, won't feel deprived. Diet? What diet?