Weight loss is not easy. Here's an idiot's guide to weight loss, based on healthy eating principles that can help you to lose weight, without resorting to crash dieting.

Weight loss for idiots – tip #1

Check your balance. Not your stability, but that you are eating a good mix of protein, carbohydrates, fat and fruit and veg each day. Many of us overload on carbs and nix the protein, or (when we are being 'good'), cut the carbs. But it's important to know that not all carbohydrates are bad. (See below).

Weight loss for idiots – tip #2

Check your portion sizing. It's all too easy to be fooled into thinking we should be losing weight if we are only eating 3 meals a day. But if those 3 meals a day are enormous, then it's hardly surprising that weight loss is a challenge. It's a simple mistake to make – in the last 20 years, portion sizes have grown by up to 300% in some eateries. One meal should equate to a portion of protein – which should just overlap the palm of your hand. Starches, pasta or potatoes should be the size of your fist. Vegetables should be two open handfuls – for salad, make that two. Doesn't sound much, but that's what it should be – and if you've got small hands – they fit your frame, so no cheating!

Weight loss for idiots – tip #3

Check your drinks. Sometimes, even drinks we imagine are good for us, actually aren't. Check my Smart Drink Choices for Smart Weight Loss article to find the secret offenders and make healthy changes to your diet. Also, try to eat fruit whole, rather than as a smoothie. It is harder to digest, and will make you feel fuller for longer.

Weight loss for idiots – tip #4

Indulgences are okay. But not every day. Learn to spread your treats out over the week, so you are consuming just a little something (cookie/chocolate/chips) once or maybe twice a week. The same goes for sodas – make them a treat only.

Weight loss for idiots – tip #5

Don't starve yourself. To function properly, you need to fuel your body regularly. You may think skipping breakfast is good, but it only encourages the body to store more fat, as it thinks it's being starved. If you can split your food intake into 5 or 6 small meals (you'll have to be disciplined to make sure they really stay 'small meals'), then do so.

Weight loss for idiots – tip #6

Learn to love low fat. I used to hate skim milk, but now I've managed to switch over and even the semi-skim tastes a little greasy. Switch from full to half fat, then half to quarter, then onto fully low fat in your dairy and if you do it gradually, you'll barely notice.

Weight loss for idiots – tip #7

Switch high GI carbs for low. Some processed foods (white pasta, white rice etc) are full of 'empty' calories, but cause massive fluctuations in our blood sugar, which can lead to weight gain. By trying to swap out processed carbohydrates for whole wheat or wholegrain options, you can level your blood sugar levels, which will help you to lose weight.

Weight loss for idiots – tip #8

Try to walk every day. It doesn't have to be far. If you're not used to exercising, 15 minutes a day is fine to begin with. Try and build up to 30 minutes at an average speed.

Weight loss for idiots – tip #9

Lighten up your evening meal. Many of us tend to eat our biggest meal of the day at night. Unless you go and take a walk or raise your metabolism afterwards, you're just encouraging your body to lay down that energy as fat. So, make lunch the main meal, or take a brisk walk after dinner.

Weight loss for idiots – tip #10

Cook for yourself. The best way to check no hidden baddies are going in your food is to make it yourself. There are all kinds of healthy, tasty, nutritious meals that can be made in less than 30 minutes. If you hate cooking, make double portions and freeze some for use later in the week.

Weight loss for idiots – tip #11

Keep a food diary. It's easy to forget about that cookie you ate Tuesday and that candy bar you had Wednesday, but if you keep a food diary and write down everything that you eat for a week, it's easy to see where you may be going wrong.

Weight loss for idiots – tip #12

Plan your meals in advance. It's too easy to fall off the weight loss plan when you're tired and there's nothing at home to eat – far easier to call for takeout, right? So, each weekend, plan what you are going to eat the following week, shop for ingredients and stick to the plan. If you've made the right choices, I'll guarantee that the weight will be falling off!

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