Losing weight is hard.

You have to work off more than you take in, and sometimes burning 3500 calories over your intake seems like a lot of work just to lose 1 pound.

In the beginning of my -115lb weight loss, I incorporated everything I used to eat into my new lifestyle. However, over time I have eliminated many of these food items to aid my weight loss. Check them out and share the things you’ve given up in the comments below…

1. SODA

It should not be surprising that the carbonated sweet drinks are #1 on my list. Diet sodas are full of chemicals and artificial sweeteners known to actually slow your weight loss, and the non-diet versions can add tons of unnecessary sugar and calories.

2. CHIPS OUT OF THE BAG OR CRACKERS OUT OF THE BOX.

I spent a lot of years mindlessly snacking through my favorite television programs and binge-eating while I binge-watched Netflix. So rather than eat from the container and end up overeating, now I either buy the pre-portioned packages or I portion my snack out into a small bowl. Then the bowl, the single serving and I can watch “Gilmore Girls” while the box goes back in the cupboard.

3. CHEESE SLICES.

Don’t get me wrong, cheese is delicious and I still eat my fair share. But I found that when I had cheese slices in my home, I would find an excuse to eat them with everything. So these, my friends, are known as a “trigger food” for me. Some trigger foods (like peanut M&Ms) I have learned to moderate and manage, but cheese slices are on the permanent no-fly list in my house because I can’t!

4. YOGURT THAT TASTES LIKE A FRUIT BUT DOESN’T CONTAIN ANY OF THAT FRUIT.

I watched Super Size Me last year and when they got to the portion about artificial flavors, I was sick to my stomach. Food companies have created many chemicals that taste just like a fruit, a flavor combo or even smell like a flame-grilled burger. Nothing was more shocking to me than yogurt, which contains a lot of things under the umbrella of “natural flavors” that you wouldn’t eat if you knew they were in there. Why not just choose plain yogurt and infuse some fresh berries, apples and fruit, and even some herbs like mint? Fresh, delicious and real! Check out this fresh berry sauce Tammy uses in her plain yogurt.

5. FOODS I DON’T WANT OR NEED BUT TAKE BECAUSE I’M AFRAID TO OFFEND ANYONE.

We all have a food pusher in our life. You’ll recognize them because they’re the ones who say, “Oh, you can have a little!” Or “One bite won’t kill you!”

I have stopped taking food for fear of offending these people. My journey is about me, not them, and I trust myself to know what I need best. Sometimes I can plan ahead and work in a small portion of what they’ll be pushing, but sometimes I need to just say, “No, thank you!” or “Oh, thank you but none for me today!” and give myself permission to feel good about making a decision that’s right for me. I used to feel a little selfish about it, but now I realize that it’s taking care of myself, and I’m worth it!

6. LOW FAT OR FAT FREE CHEESE OR BUTTER.

I love me some butter and I really love me some cheese. Blue, feta, cheddar, Swiss… Goat, Brie, mozzarella… Put cheese on pretty much anything and I’m in. So because my love for cheese is real, true love and I know it’s going to last forever, I know I need to learn how to eat it in moderation. I also know if I can’t just have one portion, I need to learn how to balance that cheesy goodness with lighter meals throughout the day. So rather than substitute the low fat cheese I do not love, I’m learning how to eat the cheese I love more sensibly.

7. DRIVE-THRU MEALS.

This is a bit of a controversy, because many chains offer healthy alternatives at their restaurants now, and they’re no better or worse than what you make at home. But, this grab-n-go eating forces us to eat mindlessly while we drive, feed a kiddo and negotiate traffic. We don’t get to savor and truly enjoy our meal, and I derive so much satisfaction from sitting down, taking a minute to breathe and really enjoying my meal.

8. “FAKE” SUGAR.

I know, I know, you were expecting this too. But it’s true, these artificial sweeteners have tons of chemicals, tons of preservatives and can actually slow, yes slow, your weight loss. I grew up in a house with pink, a little blue and than yellow packets, and I can tell you, I don’t miss them today. I choose stronger coffee, ice my coffee and sometimes use great half and half in my coffee, which is worth the calories/points and totally enhances, not masks, the flavor of the beans.

9. ANYTHING THAT DOESN’T TASTE AS GOOD AS IT LOOKS.

We have a cake at least once a month in my office. Someone gets married, someone has a birthday, someone retires. So it seems like there is always cake in our breakroom. And while sometimes the cake is worth taking a bite (see: cannoli cream), most of the time the cake is day-old, too sugary and just not delicious. It is in these moments that I honestly say “No, thank you!” and not feel bad about saving my intake for things that taste as great as they look!

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Losing weight is hard. You have to work off more than you take in, and sometimes burning 3500 calories over your intake seems like a lot of work just to lose 1 pound. In the beginning of my -115lb weight loss, I incorporated everything I used to eat into my new...