Some diets call for meticulous record keeping of all that you eat. Forget that. Instead, look at your daily calorie "bank," that is, your normal daily diet. Borrow a few hundred calories from that calorie bank -- and don't pay them back!
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. If you "borrow" these calories without replacing them, you'll be two-thirds of the way to your weekly weight-loss goal.
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 -- just like when you bank a dime here and a nickel there.
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.
When it comes to chocolate, if you can't do without the stuff, enjoy it in smaller disbursements. Two favorites of folks trying to lose weight are miniature-size chocolate bars and milk chocolate kisses. Just be sure to go easy on them. Also, there are no laws requiring you to eat a whole candy bar: Eat half and save the other half for the next day.
Trimming calories from snacks, sweeteners, and condiments is a relatively painless diet technique, but to be truly effective, you can't compensate for calories lost in one place by adding them in another: Stick to the same amounts and portions you used to enjoy. If you do away with high-calorie snacks and beverages, yet eat larger lunches and dinners, you're only transferring calories from one account to another. And for overall health, remember, nothing beats a diet of a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy, and whole grains.