Want to cut calories from your daily diet just by choosing a different (but still great-tasting) food? You can trim anywhere from 100 to 300 calories and 5 to 25 grams of fat by opting for the "diet" food products listed below instead of their full-calorie counterparts.
Some of these diet foods are lower in fat and saturated fat; others are lower in sugar. But all are lower in calories, and all are pretty tasty.
1. Ian’s Chicken Nuggets (made with organic white meat chicken and panko breadcrumbs)
This kid-friendly brand of tender and tasty white meat chicken nugget has half the calories and fat of other frozen chicken nuggets.
Calorie Savings: By buying theseinstead of Tyson’s Fun Nuggets, you save 90 calories, 10 grams of fat and 2 grams of saturated fat per five-nugget serving.
Five nuggets (84 g) have 190 calories, 15 g protein, 14 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans, 40 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber, 250 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 38%.
Main Ingredients: Organic, boneless, skinless chicken breast with rib meat; canola oil; organic panko breadcrumbs; dry potato; sea salt.
2. Light Alouette Garlic & Herbs Soft Spreadable Cheese
This cheese product is a quick way to add flavor to several types of dishes. You can stir into hot whole-wheat pasta, add to meat dishes or casseroles, spread on bagels or whole-wheat crackers, or use as a condiment to spice up your sandwich or burger.
Calorie Savings: By choosing this instead of a regular herb spread, you save 30 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, and 1.5 grams of saturated fat per 2 tablespoon serving.
Two tablespoons has 50 calories, 2 g protein, 2 g carbohydrate, 3.5 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber, 60 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 63%.
Main Ingredients: Pasteurized cultured milk, skim milk and cream, garlic, salt, guar gum and/or carob bean gum.
3. Boca Original Meatless Chick’n Patties
This soy-based version actually tastes like a real breaded chicken patty. You can use them as chicken burgers or in recipes that call for breaded chicken.
Calorie Savings: By buying this instead of breaded frozen chicken patties, you save at least 20 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 2.5 grams saturated fat per patty.
One patty (71 g) has 160 calories, 11 g protein, 15 g carbohydrate, 6 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 3.5 g monounsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 430 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 34%.
Main Ingredients: Water, soy protein concentrate, soy protein isolate, textured wheat protein, yeast extract.
4. Mousse Temptations Chocolate Indulgence Sugar Free
If you're a fan of chocolate mousse but you don’t want to invest more than 60 calories, this new sugar-free pudding cup might do the trick. It has a mousse-like texture and a nice chocolate flavor. Each cup does contain 6 grams of sugar alcohol, so only enjoy one serving at a time, particularly if you're sensitive to the intestinal side effects of sugar alcohols.
Calorie Savings: By choosing this instead of 1/2 cup of restaurant-style chocolate mousse, you save 390 calories, 25 g fat, 16 g saturated fat, 22 g carbohydrate, and 270 mg cholesterol.
One snack cup has 60 calories, 2 g protein, 10 g carbohydrate (6 grams sugar alcohol), 3 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans, 10 mg cholesterol, <1 g fiber, 100 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 45%.
Main ingredients: Water, xylitol, cream, cocoa, modified food starch.
5. Yoplait Delights Parfait 1% Low Fat Yogurt, Lemon Torte
If you feel like treating yourself to something lemony and luscious, take a look at this new yogurt dessert. (It also comes in three other flavors: Chocolate Raspberry, Crème Caramel, and Triple Berry Crème.) Sugar is the second ingredient, but it also uses two alternative sweeteners (sucrolose and acesulfame potassium), and the parfaits are fortified with vitamins A and D.
Calorie Savings: By eating this instead of a small slice of lemon meringue pie, you save at least 200 calories, 9 grams of fat, and 37 grams of carbohydrate.
A 4-oz. container has 100 calories, 5 g protein, 16 g carbohydrate, 1.5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 80 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 13.5%.
Main Ingredients: Cultured pasteurized low-fat milk, sugar, modified cornstarch, nonfat milk, and lemon pulp.
6. Ocean Spray Diet Cranberry Pomegranate (with Splenda)
This diet cranberry drink doesn’t have zero calories but it comes close. Made with cranberry, pomegranate and carrot juice, and sweetened with Splenda, it has a nice light flavor. It also provides 100% of the Daily Value for vitamin C.
Calorie Savings: By buying this instead of regular Cran-Pomegranate Ocean Spray, you save 115 calories and 28 grams of carbohydrate per cup.
One cup has 5 calories, 0 g protein, 2 g carbohydrate, 0 g fat, 50 mg sodium.
Main Ingredients: Filtered water, cranberry juice from concentrate, pomegranate juice from concentrate, carrot juice from concentrate, natural flavors.
7. Baked Cheetos (Frito-Lay)
If you crave crunchy snack foods, Baked Cheetos offer a tasty alternative with fewer calories and half the fat. Unlike many other "baked" chips, these really do taste like regular Cheetos.
Calorie Savings: By choosing these instead of regular Cheetos, you save30 calories and 5 grams of fat per ounce.
A 1-oz. serving (about 34 pieces) has 130 calories, 2 g protein, 19 g carbohydrate, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 2.5 g polyunsaturated fat, 1.5 g monounsaturated fat, 0 g trans, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber, 240 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 34.5%.
Main Ingredients: Enriched corn meal, vegetable oil (one of the following: corn, soybean or sunflower), whey, cheddar cheese, salt.
8. Gorton’s Grilled Shrimp Scampi
This product offers a low-calorie alternative to the breaded and fried shrimp you'll find on the seafood shelf in the frozen food aisle. Here's a bonus: It also has considerably more protein. Because breaded shrimp contains less actual shrimp per serving, a 3.5 ounce serving only contains 7-10 grams of protein, while this grilled shrimp offers 19 grams of protein per 4-ounce serving.
Calorie Savings: By buying this instead of Gorton’s Bear Batter Shrimp, you save 110 calories, 7.5 g fat, and 2.5 g saturated fat per serving.
A 4-oz. serving has 130 calories, 19 g protein, 3 g carbohydrate, 4.5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 110 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber, 860 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 31%.
Main Ingredients: Shrimp, sunflower oil, water, butter (cream, salt), garlic powder.
9. JELL-O Sugar Free Fat Free Instant Pudding, Cheesecake Flavor
This product is a pleasant blend of pudding texture and cheesecake flavor. JELL-O has been making sugar free pudding, sweetened with aspartame, for years now, but this is one of their finest flavors.
Calorie Savings: By eating this instead of regular instant pudding, you save 83 calories, 17 g sugar, 2 g fat, and 1.5 g saturated fat per 1/2 cup serving.
A 1/2-cup serving (prepared with skim milk) has 68 calories, 4 g protein, 12 g sugar, 0.2 g fat, 0.1 g saturated fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber, 374 mg sodium.
Main Ingredients: Modified food starch, maltodextrin, tetrasodium pyrophosphate and disodium phosphate (for thickening), nonfat milk, natural and artificial flavor.
10. Low Calorie G2 Electrolyte Beverage (by Gatorade), Fruit Punch flavor
Looking for a great-tasting sports drink that has all the electrolytes and nutrients but half the calories? The search is over with the Fruit Punch flavor of the G2 beverages. It is a pleasure to drink, with not too much sweetness but just enough flavor to satisfy.
Calorie Savings: By buying this instead of regular Gatorade, you save 50 calories and 14 grams of carbohydrate per 16-ounce serving.
An 8-oz. serving has 25 calories, 0 g protein, 7 g carbohydrate, 0 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber, 110 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 0%.
Main Ingredients: Water, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose syrup, citric acid, natural and artificial flavor.
11. Coca-Cola Zero (regular or cherry flavor)
Coca-Cola Zero tastes a lot like regular Coke, which might appeal to someone who has been having difficulty giving up regular soda. This diet soda, sweetened with aspartame and acesulfame potassium, has a good chance of passing muster with even the most discerning soda fan.
Calorie Savings: By choosing this instead of regular soda, you save 150 calories and 42 grams of carbohydrate per 12-ounce serving.
A 12-oz. serving has 0 calories, 0 g protein, 0 g carbohydrate, 0 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber, 40 mg sodium.
Main Ingredients: water, caramel color, phosphoric acid, aspartame, and potassium benzoate.
12. Smucker’s Low Sugar Strawberry Preserves
These reduced-sugar preserves with no artificial sweetener taste a lot like homemade strawberry preserves. There are pleasant chunks of strawberries and a wonderful deep red color and strawberry fragrance. The texture is more watery than regular jam, but the natural strawberry flavor really comes through. Regular jam has double the calories and sugar.
Calorie Savings: By buying this instead of regular jam, you save 25 calories and 7 grams of carbohydrate per tablespoon.
One tablespoon has 25 calories, 0 g protein, 6 g carbohydrate, 0 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber, 0 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 0%.
Main Ingredients: strawberries, sugars, water, fruit pectin, citric acid.
13. Morning Star Farms Sausage Links
I find these the best-tasting veggie sausage links, hands-down. Some might actually prefer the lean texture to the greasy texture of pork sausage, and the links look appetizing when they are pan-fried with some canola cooking spray.
Calorie Savings: By eating these instead of pork sausage links, you save 105 calories, 15 grams of fat, 5.5 grams saturated fat and 35 mg cholesterol per two-link serving.
Two links (45 grams) have 80 calories, 9 g protein, 3 g carbohydrate, 3 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 300 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 34%.
Main Ingredients: Textured vegetable protein, egg whites, corn oil, salt, sodium caseinate.
Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is the "Recipe Doctor" for WebMD and the author of numerous books on nutrition and health. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.