Bank Your Calories

Budget calories the way you do your finances and you'll be able to indulge in a treat now and then.


It's tough not to gain weight. But if you take a closer look at everything you eat, you may find some hidden calories you can painlessly trim from your diet to balance out life's little indulgences.

Think of your normal diet as your daily calorie "bank" from which you can borrow a few hundred calories. For instance, if you are in the habit of having a couple of cans of soda pop each day, switch to a diet beverage or water. Each 12-ounce can of regular soda pop contains about 150 calories. Two of those per day add up to 2,100 calories in one week. Some sandwich spreads or salad dressings can tally up hundreds of calories every day.

Dime Here, Nickel There

Other places where calories tend to tally up include condiments, spreads, and snack foods. Trimming even a few calories here and there ultimately leads to big savings. For example, using one spoon of sugar in your coffee instead of two eventually adds up.

Fruits are often recommended as substitutes for candy to fill cravings for sweets, and for a good reason: they're mostly water. But watch out for dried fruits -- although virtually fat-free, they are concentrated and can be rich in calories.

Here are a few suggestions for simple changes you can make in your daily diet that can add up to big savings around your waistline. Take little steps. If you can't imagine coffee without cream; try it with less, or use half cream and half milk. Every little bit helps.

In your coffee: Instead of: 2 tsp. sugar (30 calories) Try: 2 tsp. sugar-free sweetener (0 calories)

Instead of: 2 Tbsp. half-and-half (40 calories) Try: 2 Tbsp. reduced-fat milk (15 calories)

On a sandwich: Instead of: 1 Tbsp. mayonnaise (100 calories) Try: 1 Tbsp. low-fat mayonnaise (50 calories) or 1 Tbsp. mustard (15 calories)

On a bagel: Instead of: 2 tsp. butter (72 calories) or 2 tsp. stick margarine (66 calories) Try: 2 tsp. cream cheese (33 calories) or 2 tsp. nonfat cream cheese (25 calories) or 2 tsp. all-fruit jam (35 calories)

On a salad: Instead of: 1 Tbsp. creamy dressing (80 calories) Try: 1 Tbsp. vinaigrette dressing (40 calories) or 1 Tbsp. fat-free dressing (10 calories)

Sweet snacks: Instead of: 1 candy bar (150 calories/oz.) Try: 1 granola bar (110 calories/oz.) or 1 banana (26 calories/oz.)

Salty snacks: Instead of: potato chips (140 calories/oz.) Try: baked chips or pretzels (110 calories/oz.) or unbuttered popcorn (80 calories/oz.)

Note: Calorie amounts of items are based on averages and not meant to apply to or indicate any specific brands.

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