This is not, I repeat NOT, a January diet. If you’re looking for a quick fix for Christmas overindulgence, I’d politely suggest you do something that actually works. Weight loss is not about temporary deprivation, but making simple changes to your eating habits that you can continue for life. Here are a few pointers to cut calories without really trying:

1. Weigh stuff
Many of us are overweight because we’re eating too much healthy food. Suggested measures on packets are often small and, when we fill a large plate or bowl, we’re consuming significantly more calories than we think. It takes 30 seconds to weigh stuff, so keep tabs on what you’re eating. Remember, you need 11 to 12 calories per pound of body weight for fat loss and 14 to 16 calories per pound for maintenance.

2. Eat more protein
Protein is filling and one of the least calorific of the major food groups. How much protein you need varies according to the amount of training you do, but aim for a minimum of 0.6 grams per pound of body weight per day. Eat a portion of quality protein such as eggs, low fat dairy, lean meat or pulses with every meal.

3. Pre-prep food
If you regularly arrive home famished and start gorging on anything in sight or buy junk at lunchtime because you can’t find anything healthy to eat, it’s time to start pre-prepping food. Set aside an hour on Sundays to cook a batch of simple healthy meals for the week. You’ll save time and calories.

4. Cut liquid calories
Don’t waste calories on coke, alcohol or Starbucks-style dessert drinks. Instead save those precious calories for healthy and satisfying food. I’ve written a post about liquid calories here

5. Cut sugar
Sugar is calorie dense and fiendishly addictive. Even if you can stop at one square of chocolate and, let’s face it, not many of us can, you will save hundreds of calories in just one week if you skip that sweet treat. When we eat sugar, our insulin spikes as our bodies try to bring blood glucose levels back to normal. This is followed by a sugar crash which can only be fixed with more sugar. Trust me, it’s easier to break the cycle and quit the sweet stuff.

6. Get more sleep
Lack of sleep is linked to obesity – fact. When you’ve skipped a few hours shut-eye, you’re more inclined to reach for a sugar or carb pick-me-up. Get 7 to 8 hours sleep per night and you’ll find it easier to stay away from junk.

7. Drink more water
Thirst and hunger signals are easily confused and sometimes we eat when we really need to drink. Drinking two litres of water per day will help you feel more satisfied.

8. Reduce sauces
Processed sauces add squillions of extra calories to our daily diet, plus lashings of sugar. Calories are usually measured by the tablespoon, but it’s rare anyone stops after one serving. Instead substitute bottled sauces for tomato or yoghurt-based recipes or small helpings of low sugar varieties.

9. Rate taste and hunger
Before you eat, ask yourself how hungry you are on a scale of 1 to 10. If the rating is below 7, it’s unlikely you need to eat. If you can’t resist that dessert, rate each bite out of 10. If the first bite of cake is a 10, it won’t be that tasty for long. Once the cake is a 7 or below, put the spoon down.

10. Stop eating when you’re 70% full
Don’t feel compelled to clear your plate. If you’re full, stop eating and dispense with the food asap. Give it to the dog, kids, or put it in a Tupperware container for tomorrow’s lunch. It takes 20 minutes for your belly to suss out what your mouth has been up to, so stop munching before you’re completely full.