Cutting calories doesn’t have to hurt. Here’s how to make it simple.

Cutting calories doesn’t have to hurt. Here’s how to make it simple.

A common misconception is that dieting has to be hard and painful. All your favorite foods are off limits and you’ll never enjoy sweets and treats again. Don’t believe the lies. There are ways to cut calories and still like the foods you eat. Of course, losing weight does mean making changes. And while some of those changes aren’t easy, cutting calories can be done with a few simple substitutions.

Successful dieting is about making lasting lifestyle and diet changes. Try using these suggestions to reduce your calorie intake at breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner today, tomorrow, and forever.

Better Breakfast

Start the day off with a healthy breakfast and studies show you’ll eat fewer calories throughout the day. Cut calories by using skim milk on your cereal or in your coffee. Instead of eating sugary cereals, a white bagel, or muffin filled with empty calories, fill up on eggs, oatmeal, or a high-fiber cereal. Stuck on breakfast meats? Choose bacon over sausage. It’s actually lower in calories. Make your smoothies with low-fat Greek yogurt or skim milk and skip the breakfast pastries or donuts.

Lighter Lunch

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with lunch foods. Your go-to meals may need some tweaking. Sauces for sandwiches or dips are often high in calories. Swap out honey mustard for barbeque sauce. Go easy on the ketchup. When making tuna or egg salad, swap out mayonnaise for avocado. Use an oil and vinegar based salad dressing rather than cream-based.

Also, you’ll want to say “No” to cheese on your sandwich, hamburger, salad, or soup and pile on extra vegetables instead. When making a sandwich with deli meat, turkey is lower in calories than ham, roast beef, or tuna fish, so choose accordingly.

Slimmer Snacks

Snacking is a major downfall for many dieters. It’s easy to overdo it on the calories when you’re tired and hungry between meals. Fortunately, there are plenty of yummy and filling snacks that are low in calories. Skip the chips, cookies, and crackers and choose fruit, veggies, popcorn, or Greek yogurt.

Dainty Dinner

Portion control is a big part of cutting calories. Use a smaller plate at dinner and you’ll eat 20 percent fewer calories. Dinner is often the highest calorie meal of the day. To reduce calories at dinner but still feel satisfied, try one of these suggestions.

1. Choose thin crust pizza over deep dish and load the pizza with veggies instead of processed meats. 2. Swap out full-fat butter with light margarine. 3. Bake or grill your meat rather than frying. 4. Enjoy your fajita or taco fillings without a tortilla and your barbeque or hamburger without a bun. 5. Eat your vegetables without added cheese or sauces. 6. Choose regular rice instead of fried rice and black beans rather than refried beans.

Reduced Refreshment

It’s easy to forget that drinks have calories, too. But some drinks have a lot. A great way to cut calories in your diet is to watch what you drink. Sugar-sweetened beverages such as sodas, sweet tea, sports drinks, juices, and energy drinks add on calories fast. Alcohol is also high in calories, with a 12-ounce can of soda or beer containing an average of 150 calories. Cut back on high-calorie drinks and plan to drink water or unsweetened tea. Instead of regular beer, drink lite varieties, low-calorie cocktails, or 6 ounces of wine.