With so many diets available, it's hard to know which one is right for you. Some may fit your lifestyle better, while others might appeal to your personal eating habits. If you're not picky about food, diets that restrict you to certain foods may work. If you know you'll never be able to get over your love for ice cream, choose a diet that focuses on portion control rather than restricting you to certain foods. Stick to the main tenets of any diet -- one that favors healthy food choices and moderation. Structure your own meal strategy using these tips.
Determine the amount of calories you should consume daily in order to lose weight. If you have an active lifestyle, you'll need more. If you spend most of your day sitting at a desk, you'll need less. According to the Mayo Clinic, you need to burn 3,500 more calories than you take in per week to lose 1 lb. Don't shave off too many calories. According to the National Institute of Health, women shouldn't take in less than 1,200 calories per day and men no less than 1,500.2
Set an alarm clock to go off every three to four hours. This is how frequently you should be eating to keep your metabolism burning fat and to stave off cravings and binge attacks. Set up an eating schedule and follow it every day. Though you'll be eating more frequently, you'll actually be eating less by trimming down your portion sizes.3
Make a weekly grocery list and set aside at least one day a week for cooking. Keep low-calorie snacks available, such as fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt and butter-free popcorn. Cook a lot, even if you're only cooking for yourself. Leftovers can be a life-saver when you're running late for work and forgot to pack your lunch the night before.4
Focus on protein and fruits and vegetables. Pack your breakfast full of protein, including black beans or eggs, and citrus fruits like grapefruit and oranges that will rev up your metabolism. It's easy to grab for bread and chips when you're hungry, but try to substitute. Instead of regular french fries, bake your own sweet potato fries. Switch out pasta for brown rice.5
Keep a food journal and list everything you eat. If you break down and have an ice cream sundae, it's not the end of the world. Make up for it with exercise and keep going. The worst thing you can do is use it as an excuse to eat everything else and start your diet again some other time. Think of a diet as a lifelong commitment, not a crash period of starvation.