Diet Cheat Sheet: A Survival Guide


The day we embark on a diet plan, we are gung-ho and ready to go; the kitchen is filled (or maybe rather not so full) with lettuce, eggs, lean meats, the cookie drawers are empty and the fruit and vegetable drawer is overflowing. We’ve got bottles of water, alcohol has been banished and a whole bunch of herbal teas have replaced the chocolate. Intentions are good, resolve is off the dial and we are on our way. But what happens into day four (if you’ve made it this far, you are doing really good) and you are invited to a dinner party? What happens when you are invited out for a drink? What if you have this insurmountable craving for something sweet? Did you succumb and eat a cupcake at the weekly 11AM office meeting and now feel discouraged and figure you might as well quit? Don’t despair and above all, don’t give up. Help is on the way

Temptation at Home

Remove all temptation from your home. If you are prone to eating what’s around: it’s got to go. The less you have around, the less your mind has to battle/agonize about what you are not supposed to eat. “Just putting food where you can see it next to you depletes your willpower,” science writer John Tierney says in his book, “Willpower”, co-authored by psychologist Roy F. Baumeister. “Whereas putting it away in a drawer or putting it across the room makes it easier because you’re not actively resisting temptation.”

Tierney goes on to say this: ” You only have a finite amount [of willpower] as you go through the day, so you should be careful to conserve it and try to save it for the emergencies.”

Here come the emergencies:

Office Meeting with Cupcakes

Drink a glass of water before the meeting and sit as far away from the temptation as possible. That always helps. Sweeten your coffee or tea with some honey. If you are dying for something chewable that’s sweet: bring your own small oatmeal cookie. If you’ve already been confronted with a cupcake and consumed said cupcake; don’t sweat it. Forget about it and continue your program as specified. Better a cupcake during the day than at night.

After work Drinks

If you are invited for drinks and actually want to have a drink (of the alcoholic sort); stay away from any mixed drinks i.e. cocktails. Choose a clear liquid: vodka or gin. Have it neat or with tonic. Clear alcoholic liquids have fewer to no additives and as a result fewer calories.

Dinner Parties

Sometimes it is best not to attend. If it is something you cannot avoid, be sure to do the following: tell your host or hostess you are following a strict regimen and would like to stay on track. Expecting your host/hostess to cook you a special meal would be rude but informing them for the reason of less than enthusiastic eating is common courtesy. Do eat but stay away from the off-limits food groups.

Dinner Date

If you have been asked out – finally – by someone you’ve been pinning after weeks; accept. Just don’t eat. You will completely avoid the eternal question: “Do I have food stuck in my teeth?” Pretend you had some dental work done. Sounds better than “I’m on a diet.”

Grocery Shopping

Never go shopping when you are hungry. You will buy items you end up eating. Make a list and buy exclusively things on the list. Nothing more, nothing less.


Weigh yourself once a week. Stepping on the scales every morning may be discouraging and weaken your resolve. If you can’t stop yourself; hide the scales. Out of sight is out of mind.

Metabolism Booster

There is a diet called the Lemon Diet: it’s basically lemons squeezed into a liter of water, a few spoonfuls of triple A grade maple syrup with some cayenne pepper sprinkled in. This is all the diet consists of. This is an extreme starvation diet and not recommended by this author. However, what one can take away from this diet is the lemon/maple syrup mix. Mix yourself a liter in a pitcher and drink it throughout the day. It quells hunger pangs, gives you some sweetness, it’s healthy and natural and aids with digestion.

The mix: one whole lemon squeezed into a liter of water, 5 tablespoons of maple syrup, a few sprinkles of cayenne pepper; mix with a spoon. This is beats any vitamin water and is intended to accompany your meal plan.

Olive Oil and Hunger Pangs

Olive oil is great on salads and for cooking fish. What it is also excellent for is quelling hunger pangs: a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil taken on an empty stomach before you go to bed helps all those afflicted with the 3AM snack attacks. Olive oil also works as a very mild laxative.

One other way to use olive oil is swishing a table spoon in the mouth for 20 minutes. If you can manage that, you’ll most certainly suppress hunger pangs. The benefits of oil pulling (as it’s called) as a detoxification method for the entire body are debatable however swishing it around in your mouth for 20 minutes is great for a very healthy mouth. The mouth must be rinsed thoroughly after you spit the oil out. For more information on what some say it can do, check out

Take a Bite

Ever wonder how Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte managed to stay so thin despite eating all the time on the “Sex and the City” episodes? Actors in food ads and in dinner scenes requiring food-in-mouth and therefore multiple takes spit out their food when the director yells, “Cut!” Makes sense otherwise, they’d get sick after the 27th take. So if you find yourself taking a bite of some forbidden food, spit it out.

This neat trick can be applied if you absolutely have to take a bite of something not on the “do” list of your diet: take a bite, then spit it out. Not recommended to do in public and not recommended instead of pure willpower. This is more of a emergency exit strategy.

Dark Chocolate

We’ve heard it before and you are hearing it again: if you have an urge for chocolate, eat dark chocolate. It does indeed contain less calories than milk chocolate and goes a long way in satisfying the urge for sweet.

Maintaining good habits to lose weight, keep your weight and just staying healthy is a challenge. But willpower can be trained and exercised as well. Practice always makes perfect. And keep going.


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