1. Set realistic goals - You didn't put on extra weight overnight so it is equally unrealistic to take it off quickly. Record a goal that you can reach in one month that is 4 to 8 pounds less than you weigh now. Set a goal you know you can achieve.
2. Spread your calories around - Divide your calorie goal by the number of meals (at least three) so that you eat about the same amount of calories at each meal. If meals are more than 500 calories, save some calories for snacks between meals. Make sure you eat at least 1200 calories each day or you will lose muscle.
3. Diet foods not required - Eat regular foods rather than the "sugar free", "lite" or "fat free" versions (except soda beverages and milk) because the calories in these "diet" foods still count towards your total calories each day. Diet foods are usually not as satisfying or filling so you may eat more of them. Drink fat free or skim milk so you can add some fat at meals. If you only drink 1% milk, then cut added fat in half at meals. If you drink 2% (low fat) milk, then don't add any fat to food at meals.
Eat the basic food groups at meals - lean meat, legumes, dairy, fruits and vegetables. Then add one or two servings of grains or starches each meal to reach your calorie goal. Include 8 ounces of milk and one serving of grains, fruits and vegetables at each meal to provide carbohydrate fuel for your brain and muscles. You need at least 100 grams of carbohydrate each day.
4. Drastic changes not recommended - The plan you follow to lose weight should be built on the how you eat now modified by these ten changes. A weight loss plan should be a plan you can follow for a lifetime by making small changes in the portion sizes you eat once you reach your goal weight so that you can maintain a healthy weight. Try the Healthy Body Calculator to calculate your basal calorie (don't include activity) needs at your current weight and your goal weight. There may be as little as a 5 calorie increase for each pound of body weight you gain over your goal weight.
5. Portion control - Control meal portions to a piece of lean meat as big as the back of your hand from your knuckles to where your wrist bends and as thick as your little finger or about the size of a deck of cards. Other foods like grains, vegetables and fruits can be portioned to 2 heaping serving tablespoons or approximately ½ cup each per meal. Measure how many ounces are in your beverage glass or mug so that you pour 4 or 8 ounces portions.
6. Cook it yourself - Bake, broil or steam food rather than frying. Consider cooking from scratch more often so you know what is in the food you eat.
7. Some fat is OK - Limit added fat to 1 teaspoon (margarine or mayonnaise or oil) or 1 tablespoon of salad dressing per meal if this doesn't exceed your calorie goal. You can choose to put margarine on your potato or salad dressing on your salad, but not both. To limit salad dressing and make it go farther, serve your salad dressing on the side of your salad and then dip your fork in the dressing before spearing your salad for each mouthful.
8. Sugar is not evil - You just can't afford the calories. Sugar only contains carbohydrate so use an artificial sweetener in beverages or drink sugar free soda in
9. Alcohol in moderation - Alcoholic beverages are just as empty of nutrients as sugar, but your liver processes them like fat. If you drink, limit yourself to one drink per day (12 ounce beer or 4 ounces wine or 1 ½ ounces distilled liquor) and then only add fat to one meal that day.
10. Have your cake too? - Probably not. Desserts are mostly fat and sugar which will put you over your calorie goal for the day.