updated 1/26/2007 9:35:52 AM ET 2007-01-26T14:35:52

Forget Atkins, the Zone Diet or other meal plans that require you to radically change how you eat and live. When we asked about simple changes you've made to lose weight, many of you wrote to tell us about minor alterations in your eating that have added up to big loss.

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One reader dropped 32 pounds by simply skipping his after work beer. Another shed weight by using smaller plates for meals. Others started keeping a journal of everything they've eaten and used it to identify ways to cut out calories.

"By week two, I found I was grazing less, because looking over my food journal helped make me accountable for what I put into my body," wrote one reader from Seattle.

One Florida reader who has lost 10 pounds in five months says she's cut down on pasta and has stopped keeping high-calorie snacks in her pantry, but still allows herself to occasionally indulge in bacon, a favorite treat. Best of all, she says she doesn't feel like she's denying herself anything.

"I don't think of myself as being on a diet," she wrote. "I've just made some changes in the way I eat."

Read on for more reader responses:

I finally convinced my husband two years ago to give up the daily French fries with his lunch — and these were in good restaurants, not fast food — and he lost 14 pounds in three months.
Sandi L. Gunnison , Colo.

I quit drinking a beer when I came home from work. The one beer often led to a second, or a pizza. With the hours I work, often with only eight to 10 hours off, I would go to bed right after eating said pizza. Once I quit drinking after work (I still will have a beer if I go out or at a party) I lost 12 pounds the first month! Totally, I have lost 32 pounds and have been able to keep it off for four years. Of course I also changed other things like portion size, times of meals, types of meals etc, but the first 12 pounds was the impetus for staying with it and making more changes which led to more success.
Sean M. Higgins, SIMM Valley, Calif.

I started using smaller plates for my meals. That way I put less on my plate and ate less.
Sarah, Tallahassee, Fla.

I have switched my desserts from cakes, pies, etc., to sweet fruits such as strawberries and grapes. I have done this for almost a month and have lost six pounds.
Nyoka, London, Ohio

I've lost a little over 10 pounds since my daughter and grandchildren moved out (about five and a half months ago). It's not much of a weight loss, I know; but after many years of zero weight loss, I see it as encouraging. I shop differently these days. I no longer buy peanut butter (that was my downfall in the past) and I seldom buy bread (sometimes I make a loaf the old fashion way and since making bread is quite a time investment, I try to make it last a while). I eat less meat than I used to, and often base my main meal on lentils, which I love. My soups and stews, which I make often, consist mostly of vegetables. I rarely buy pasta and I no longer buy white rice — only brown. Perhaps the biggest change is the absence of snacks in my pantry, which used to hold chips, crackers, cookies, and various other calorie-rich munchies. I rarely eat out, and the only place I indulge certain cravings is at work. I love bacon, and frequently buy it in our cafeteria. The advantage there is that I get to indulge without overdoing, since the portion size is less generous than I would allow myself at home. And yes, I do occasionally try the goodies the girls sometimes bring into the office. Fortunately, that's not an everyday thing. I don't think of myself as being on a diet. I've just made some changes in the way I eat.
Kathy, Tampa, Fla.

Instead of thinking about what I can't eat, I make sure that I get two cups of veggies and two fruits each day. I feel so much better that I don't find myself munching out of tiredness or boredom.
Anne, Houston, Texas

I have made a couple of small changes since just before Christmas (I did not wait to make them a New Year's Resolution). First, if I get hungry and I know I recently ate an ample amount of food, I get something to drink. I find I am more likely to be thirsty than hungry and a glass of water or cup of tea often satisfies me. Second, I am paying attention to my body's signals when I have eaten enough. I stop when I am satisfied, not stuffed. If I don't hear the signals and think I have eaten enough, I stop and give my stomach and brain time to connect to say I am satisfied. Since right before Christmas to Jan. 17, I have dropped seven pounds with very little effort and without giving up or denying myself any specific food.
Cheryl, Bonney Lake, Wash.

I started keeping a log of everything I ate throughout the days for two full weeks. It was interesting to look back and see what I ate, and how many extra calories came with it. By week two, I found I was grazing less, because looking over my food journal helped make me accountable for what I put into my body. I've lost some pounds, and inches because of this change, and I do plan on trying to maintain a journal of my intake until I reach my goals -- and maybe beyond that to keep me on track!
Deanna, Seattle, Wash.

I started a new job that required that I eat lunch at my desk. In my previous job I would eat at fast food restaurants almost every day. When I started taking a healthy snack and lunch to work, the pounds just dropped off. I lost 25 pounds in one year!

When eating anything with a bun or bread, I take off one side and eat it “open face.” I never order fries or any side with a burger or sandwich. I try to stay away from sugar.
Candi Nelson, Hilo, Hawaii

Eating a late lunch helps me avoid a big evening meal. Usually for dinner I have soup or half of a sandwich out. Dinners at home for me are served on a child's plate for smaller portions.
Doug Williams, Brighton, Mich.

My small diet changes: Drink eight glasses of water each day, include fruit and vegetables, and exercise at least 15 minutes a day and more if I'm motivated. Also, I am writing down all the food I’ve eaten. I have lost 32 pounds since September.
Brenda Reed, Lawrence, Kan.

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