Losing weight doesn't have to be painful. Here's how to do it easily and safely.

12 Easy and Safe Weight Loss Tips

One place to get free, sensible nutrition and weight loss advice is from the U.S. government’s MyPlate.gov, a guide created by the U.S.D.A. While you may be familiar with the government agency’s popular graphic of a plate divided into food groups, you may not realize that the website’s Choose My Plate weight management program also offers a wealth of helpful weight loss tips for the whole family.

Here are 12 tips for easy weight loss, along with additional resources to help you make healthy lifestyle changes day by day.

  1. Find out what you actually eat and drink every day by using the USDA’s online Supertracker tool.
  2. Using the information from your supertracker food list, make a personalized meal plan based on healthier choices.
  3. Use smaller plates, bowls, and glassware to avoid oversize portions. (Many people discover the portions they’re eating are double the size indicated on food labels and calorie counts.)
  4. Pay attention to the internal cues that tell you when you’re hungry and when you’ve had enough to eat before, during, and after meals.
  5. Decrease portion size; here are some portion guidelines for popular foods.
  6. When eating dairy products such as milk and yogurt, choose fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) products.
  7. Substitute whole grains for processed grains — for example, choose brown rice instead of white.
  8. Avoid foods high in solid fats such as pizza, and fatty meats.
  9. Drink water instead of sugary beverages. (Note: this includes many fruit juice-based drinks.)
  10. Choose carefully when eating out, as many restaurant meals are very high-calorie. This handy guide can help you calculate the calories of many popular restaurant choices.
  11. Try to cut back on desserts or eat just a few bites, enough to at least temporarily satisfy your sweet tooth. According to government officials, the number one source of calories for most Americans is desserts and sweets.
  12. Cut back on your “screen time.” Did you know the amount of time you spend on the computer and watching TV is directly related to physical activity and weight loss? Use this guide to keep track of the hours you spend sitting before a screen, then come up with other options that burn more calories.

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.