The Diet Detective: A Beginner's Diet for Weight Loss

4. Find your favorites.

Experiment and sample a variety of foods. Some of the entr?es or sides may not be to your liking, and that's fine. Just don't sample three or four meals at a time. Eventually, find your favorites; stock up on those. You can even order them by the case if you want.

For instance, offers Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, Amy's (soups), Weight Watchers Smart Ones and many others. Ordering online means the foods come directly to your door, which makes weight loss even easier.

Once you figure out which meals you like, keep a supply in your freezer and fridge. That way, a healthy meal can always be just a few minutes away. It's a good idea to serve them on a plate. The volume of food appears bigger and fills up the plate, and as a result you are more satisfied.

5. Create a weekly planning guide.

Make sure you fill in every detail. It's best to use a spreadsheet program to create a form. Planning your meals in advance is extremely important because it leaves less room for things to go wrong—which is usually when people fall off the wagon.

6. Create a weekly shopping list.

This ensures that all the foods on your weekly menu make it to your cupboard, fridge and freezer.

7. Weigh yourself.

Do this on the very first morning of your first day, before eating anything but after using the bathroom.

8. Put the Diet Detective's Build-a-Meal Plan into action.

Simply choose your breakfast entr?e and side, a midmorning snack, your lunch entr?e and side, an afternoon snack, your dinner entr?e and side(s) and a dessert, along with your beverages.

You can see that even though fruits and vegetables are generally considered side dishes, I have listed them in a separate category. That's because I want to make sure you include as many of them as possible in your meal plan.

In selecting sides and snacks, always look at the fruits and vegetables first. Fruits and vegetables are packed with fiber, which helps fill you up—exactly what you are looking for when you're trying to lose weight. Finally, keep in mind that condiments have calories, too, and need to be taken into account when planning your meal. That's why they're listed as sides.

Here's an example of how it works:

1,200-Calorie Meal Plan

  • Breakfast (entr?e 250 calories; drink 25 calories)
  • Mid-morning Snack (fruit 50 calories)
  • Lunch (entr?e 300 calories; drink 0 calories)
  • Afternoon Snack (50 calories)
  • Dinner (entr?e 350 calories; side(s) 50 calories; fruit or vegetable 50 calories)
  • Dessert (50 calories)
  • Drink (25 calories)

Sample 1,200-Calorie Meal Plan


  • Entr?e: Dunkin' Donuts Sausage, Egg White & Cheese Wake-Up Wrap
  • Drink: Dunkin' Donuts Medium Iced Coffee

Morning Snack

  • Mott's No-Sugar-Added Natural Apple Sauce


  • Entr?e: Subway Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Drink: Club Soda

Afternoon Snack

  • Ready Pac Carrots with Ranch Dip Snack Pac


  • Entr?e: Amy's Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
  • Vegetable: Fresh Express 5-Lettuce Mix (1 bag)
  • Side: Wish-Bone Salad Spritzers Balsamic Breeze Vinaigrette Dressing (10 sprays)
  • Side: Campbell's Vegetable Beef Soup at Hand
  • Dessert: Jolly Rancher Popsicle Ice Pops (1 pop)
  • Drink: Water or coffee

9. Walk.

Yes, walk every single day for at least 30 minutes more than you were walking before you started the plan.

Follow this plan and lose weight. Granted, this is a very basic version of the first phase of the program, but it should give you a jump-start. If you want to continue on the program, you'll need to figure out your daily calorie needs, subtract 500 calories per day and develop a plan with the appropriate Phase 2 calorie levels. Never eat fewer than 1,200 calories per day.

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Charles Stuart Platkin is an Active Expert, nutrition and public health advocate, author of the best seller Breaking the Pattern (Plume, 2005), Breaking the FAT Pattern (Plume, 2006) and Lighten Up (Penguin USA/Razorbill, 2006) and founder of Integrated Wellness Solutions and Sign up for The Diet Detective newsletter free at

Copyright 2011 by Charles Stuart Platkin

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