03/13/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

How to Have Your Chocolate and Eat It Too

Valentine's Day, Shmalentine's Day. I'm sorry but I'm not a big fan. There is pressure to get your sweetie the right gift, which right now when most of us are worried about paying the bills is stressful, and then if you don't have a sweetie...

Another thing that bugs me about Valentine's Day is that the florists double and sometimes triple the price of flowers. The same thing happens right before Mother's Day. That same dozen roses you can get for $9.99 all year, suddenly costs $29.99. This bugs me. It doesn't seem fair.

Then there is chocolate. Chocolate gets my vote but if you are watching your weight, it can be tricky. So how can you have chocolate, eat it, enjoy it and not gain weight? It can be done and I'll tell you how I do it.

I eat chocolate everyday. For me it is a food group. Fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and chocolate. My food pyramid. Here are some tips on how to have your chocolate and eat it too:

1) Get the best chocolate you can. Start there and you are already on your way. For me, See"s candy is the best chocolate I have ever had. I live within walking distance to a See's, which honestly made me think twice about buying this house, but it has turned out to be a good thing. I'll explain why.

2) Use environmental control. The reason See's being close has been good for me is because I can go, get a few pieces, and leave the scene. I don't buy a huge box and have it sitting around the house. For Valentine's Day my husband gets me a gift card to See's and I can make that last for months. About the time Mother's Day roles around I am ready for another gift card.

3) Eat the best part first. This tip is a little weird, I know, but it works well for me. Each piece of See's has about 80 calories. If I just eat the chocolate off the outside, I take in about 40 calories per piece. The chocolate is what I most want and when you eat it this way you still get the taste of the inside, without consuming the entire piece. Eating it this way I can have 4 pieces for the calories of 2. I throw out the center.

4) Know and count the calories. You can include chocolate in your daily diet if you plan for those calories. If you get 1,300 calories a day and 160 of them are chocolate, you can make the rest of your 1,140 calories healthy, whole, unprocessed food.

So, have a happy and healthy Valentine's Day. If any of you out there only like the centers, maybe we can work something out.

If you'd like to participate in the research for Irene's new book about the process of weight loss, please visit and take the survey.