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Bread

Slim-Down Effect: Contains carbohydrates, which boost brain chemicals that curb overeating

Bread is an excellent source of carbs, which your brain needs to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of comfort and satisfaction, says Nina T. Frusztajer, MD, a Boston-based physician who specializes in nutrition and is coauthor of The Serotonin Power Diet. When serotonin levels are optimal, you feel calm and happy and have fewer cravings; when they’re low, you feel depressed and irritable, making you more likely to overeat.

Breads containing whole grains are healthiest, and one serving equals one slice of bread, half an English muffin, or a small roll.

Cheese

Slim-Down Effect: Great source of calcium, which burns calories and fat

At about 100 calories and 5 g of fat per ounce, cheese usually tops the no-no list, but its calcium improves your ability to burn calories and fat, according to a recent research review. Not getting enough of this mineral may trigger the release of calcitriol, a hormone that causes the body to store fat. Scientists aren’t exactly sure why, but eating calcium-rich foods is more effective than taking calcium supplements—and cheese has about 200 mg per ounce.

Just stick to 2-ounce portions, and choose light varieties to get health benefits for half the calories.

Dark chocolate

Slim-Down Effect: Satisfies a common craving to prevent bingeing

Up to 97% of women experience cravings, and chocolate is the most common and “intensely” craved food, according to a recent study. Having an occasional small serving of a favorite treat is better than depriving yourself, which may lead to a binge. In fact, people who tried to not think about chocolate ate two-thirds more of it than people who were told to talk about it freely, British research found.

Dark varieties are more satisfying than milk chocolate, say scientists. Slowly savoring one or two squares of a high-quality dark chocolate bar will satisfy a craving more than wolfing down M&M’s in front of the TV.

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