TODAY   |  February 09, 2010

Diet S.O.S. tackles viewers’ emergencies

TODAY nutritionist Joy Bauer answers viewers’ Valentine's Day diet dilemmas.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> much.

>>> this morning, "joy's diet s.o.s." she says you can have your cake and eat it, too. with lots of healthy options like choosing dark chocolate over milk chocolate , you and your loved ones can sweeten your valentine's day. we have nutritionist and "today" contributor joy bauer .

>> chocolate !

>> i know. it's amazing. mark down the date and time, because joy bauer says we can indulge.

>> that's right.

>> let's talk first to wendy, on the telephone from westchester, new york. she's got a question about dark chocolate . hey, wendie, what's your question?

>> caller: how do i know that the dark chocolate i'm eating is really good for me? are there ways to select the right types of dark chocolate and how much can i eat in one sitting?

>> good question, the last one, especially, joy.

>> you've got to love dark chocolate . it's sweet, delicious, and it lowers blood pressure and benefits overall heart health. so, typically, the darker the chocolate , the better. when you're looking at brands, you want to look for at least 70% cocoa, and you know then that it's loaded with a lot of antioxidants. in terms of portion, you want to keep it to one ounce a day. that's about 150 calories, give or take. and if you want to visualize what that looks like, it's about the size of a business card or a credit card when you're talking about let's say a standard lint-heightened chocolate bar . if it's a thicker chocolate , sort of adjust accordingly.

>> thank you so much for your question, wendie.

>> there you go, wendie!

>> lynn lives in longwood, florida. lynn , what's your question?

>> hi, lynn !

>> yes, how can i enjoy valentine's day without the guilt some.

>> that's a great question, and i'm going to tell you to plan for it and to enjoy every single calorie. when you preplan, you will stay in control versus sort of waiting for the heat of the moment , and it's valentine's day. we are allowed to indulge a little bit. plan one or two things, maybe a glass of champagne and then split some decadent dessert with your husband over a romantic dinner. or, if he gives you a box of chocolate , you can certainly enjoy two or three chocolates . and then the next day, february 15th , start off with a healthy breakfast, incorporate exercise and you are right back on track.

>> you're saying basically get in the game frame, have it in your mind in terms of how you're going to plan it so you don't go overboard. that's good advice.

>> and you don't lose it. you're in control and you enjoy it.

>> thank you so much for your question, lynn . now we've got a question sent via e-mail from tammy in indiana. she wants to know, "are sugar -free chocolates healthier and less addictive than regular chocolate ?" what do you think?

>> believe it or not, sugar -free chocolates are actually just about the same calories as sugar -filled chocolate . so, when it comes to weight control , there's really no advantage. and in terms of the addictive quality, people tend to be passionate for the flavor, that melt-in-your-mouth texture. nowadays, sugar -free chocolates have those two qualities, so they're just as addictive. but the interesting piece is that sugar -free chocolates don't have sugar . they have sugar alcohols , which don't spike your blood sugar levels. so, they're terrific for diabetics who occasionally do want to indulge. the only down sides to sugar alcohols are that if you have a sensitive stomach, they can cause bloating and gas and sometimes diarrhea.

>> okay, you're convincing me just to go for straight sugar .

>> on the morning show !

>> but just have a little bit is what you're saying. stay with the sugar . that's probably a little better for most people, unless you're diabetic.

>> right. if you're diabetic, again, it's all about moderation and make sure you're not sensitive to some of the sugar alcohols , because a lot of people are.

>> okay. now we have virginia on the telephone. she's from ohio, from solon, ohio. virginia , good morning. what's your question?

>> good morning, virginia !

>> caller: good morning, joy. i want to send a valentine goodie box to my daughter at college. this year she's focusing on eating more healthfully, exercising. do you have any ideas what i can put in the box?

>> i love this question. it's a great question and it's so much fun to send goodie baskets to our kids in college. there are loads of ideas that are healthy and have that valentine's theme. first, there are chocolate nutrition bars. i like the emerald dusted cocoa almonds. all of these little portion-controlled dark chocolates -- hershey kisses come in dark chocolates , the dove miniatures come in dark chocolates . meringue cookies are very low calorie . these portion-controlled biscottis. and for the college crowd, the low-fat hot cococoa packets are great for the dorm rooms. now, i love gift certificates, memberships at netflix, starbucks cards. there are chocolate -scented lotions and potions from dylan's candy bar and philosophy, to an amazing candle that smells divine. cozy socks, colored nail polish , lip glosses. so many fun things that won't break the calorie bank.

>> that's a good question. thanks so much for your question. this is terrific. the only problem is i have had probably 100 of these in one sitting. you're saying this is portion control ? the truth is, i've had -- i will eat them one after another.

>> four or five of them. four or five of them.

>> that's all i get?

>> and if you freeze them, it sort of slows you down a little bit. so, that's a good trick.

>> if i could ask a question about chocolate --

>> yeah.

>> you know, everyone talks about how it has a heart-healthy impact, but if you're only eating such a small amount, how much impact does it really have some.

>> that's a great question, ann. i mean, the nice part is that when you're having dark chocolate as a sweet treat in place of something that's sort of junky and unhealthy, it's already better for you. we don't really know how much it would take, and i certainly don't want to tell people to gorge or binge on dark chocolate because then you pack on the pounds and it undoes any of the good stuff. know that it's a great substitute as a sweet treat, one ounce a day, at least 70% of cocoa you want. figure out a brand that works for you and enjoy it instead of other things.

>> all right. joy bauer . thank you so much.

>> thanks, ann.

>> putting the love in our valentine's day.

>> we can eat chocolate .