The Easiest Way to Lose Weight Without Feeling Deprived: The No-diet Plan

Let's face it, dieting is not fun. Eating is fun and moreover, necessary. However, if you, like many of us, have padded out with a few extra pounds this winter, you might be considering a slim-down plan for summer.

Here's a secret: losing five to ten pounds doesn't have to be torture. Unless your eating habits have truly gone off the rails (in which case you should speak with your doctor who may refer you to a registered dietician or nutritionist), you don't need to, and shouldn't, drastically alter your regular routine.

Crash diets are unhealthy. They cause unpleasant side effects such as dehydration, kidney stones, bad breath, and dizziness. Dramatically cutting back on calories can also lead to weight cycling-when you gain back more than you initially lost. In fact, the majority of dieters regain all those hard lost pounds plus more within a couple of years.

The no-diet plan

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says the safest and most realistic weight loss goal is about one pound a week. Losing one pound means cutting back on about 3,500 calories. By eliminating 500 calories a day you will shed a pound a week at a healthy rate without feeling deprived.

Rather than thinking of this strategy as a diet, look at it as a budget. If you are broke, you make a tasty, cheap cup of coffee at home rather than ordering a grande at Starbucks (or at least you should). How can you make the daily swaps in your eating and activity patterns that will be the least painful?

Here are ways to cut or burn 50, 100, and 200 calories. Mix and match what works for you as long as the items you choose add up to 500 calories a day. You will soon be on the way to a sleeker physique, just in time for beach weather. Another benefit of swapping, trimming, and adding doable exercise is that your smart new habits will help you keep the weight off over the long run.

50 calories

Eat one piece of toast in instead of two, or have an open-faced sandwich

Mix juice with half selzer

Swap one cup of skim milk for one cup of whole milk

Eat one ounce of pretzels instead of one ounce of potato chips

Eat one small handful of nuts rather than one large handful

Leave the cheese off your sandwich

Swap mustard for mayo

Leave the butter or oil off your vegetable

Swap a turkey burger for a beef burger

Swap vinaigrette for creamy salad dressing

Skip one cookie

Stand or pace when you are on the telephone instead of sitting

Push a baby in a stroller for 15 minutes

Cook a simple meal instead of ordering take out

Mow the lawn

Take the stairs (ten minutes per day)

Do a quick stretch and free weight routine while watching TV

Give a 15-minute massage

100 calories

Eat one medium apple or orange instead of drinking 12 ounces of juice

Skip eight ounces of juice

Eat a small bagel instead of a regular bagel

Swap Canadian bacon for regular bacon or pork sausage

Eat one rather than two eggs

Eat one tablespoon of peanut butter instead of two

Eat water packed tuna instead of oil packed tuna

Swap a small corn tortilla for a large flour tortilla

Eat plain cheese or vegetable pizza instead of pepperoni or sausage pizza

Eat broth-based soup instead of cream-based soup

Eat a half-cup less rice or pasta

Eat a baked potato instead of French fries

Eat baked chips instead of fried chips

Choose a skinless portion of chicken

Cut a six ounce steak in half and save the rest

Swap one cup of frozen yogurt for one cup of ice cream

Eat a half a piece of cake or pie instead of a full serving

Eat a cup of fruit instead of candy

Skip a glass of beer or wine

Choose light beer or wine instead of a cocktail

Downsize your plates, bowls, and glasses

Play with kids at the park for 30 minutes

Walk a dog for 30 minutes

Take an easy 45-minute bike ride

Go shopping for an hour

200 calories

Swap one cup of Kellogg's All Bran or Corn Flakes for one cup of granola

Eat an English muffin with fruit only jam instead of a bagel with cream cheese

Eat carrots and hummus instead of chips and guacamole

Skip the bread and butter when dining out

Skip dessert

Skip a cocktail

Skip can of soda

Bring air popped or light microwave popcorn to the movies

Drink an espresso instead of a latte with sugar

Order a salad and an appetizer instead of a starter and main course

Skip seconds

Eat sorbet instead of ice cream

Dance for 30 minutes

Go bowling for an hour

Clean your house or garden for an hour

Rearrange your living room

Jog for 30 minutes

Go to a yoga class

Hand wash your car

Park ¾ of a mile away from work and walk the rest (both ways)

Do you have any painless calorie-saving tips? Please share in the comments below.