Do you want to know how to lose 10 pounds without dieting? This is not a gimmick or a quick weight loss scheme. It’s about making small lifestyle adjustments that can add up to big results.

When I want to lose weight, the hardest part is getting started. But once I lose those first few pounds, I find it easier to eat less. My body gets used to it right away and I crave less food. Our portion sizes are a habit more than a desire. I usually start by putting a fourth less of what I normally would on my plate. When I’m finished eating I find that I don’t really miss the extra fourth. As kids we were told to clean our plates. We get used to that. No matter how much food you put on your plate, you’re conditioned to finish it all.

Here are my top 10 tips on how to lose the first 10 pounds.

1. Make water your drink of choice. Give up sugary mocha lattes, fruit juices, sodas, and even diet sodas. Cleanse your body with refreshing water, preferably filtered.

2. Eat open-faced sandwiches. I often take sandwiches to work for lunch. They are portable, convenient, and easy to eat. When I’m watching my calorie intake, I like to use one slice of bread and the same amount of filling (usually a protein like tuna salad) to make an open-faced sandwich. That way I cut my carb and calorie intake by half. I find I eat the sandwich more delicately because of its design. I take longer to enjoy it and feel satisfied longer.

3. Make pasta a side dish. I’m Italian and I love pasta. But when I’m trying to lose weight, I fill my bowl with wonderful vegetables and make pasta the side dish. I still get my pasta, just less of it. Less pasta, fewer carbs. More vegetables, more energy.

4. Eat real food, not processed food that comes in packets, cans, frozen, or otherwise. Highly processed foods are loaded with sodium, fillers, and calories. For example, I love risotto, but did you ever read the ingredients on a flavored rice packet? Homemade risotto takes a half hour tops. Cook with fresh ingredients: arborio rice, some broth, fresh veggies, a little shallot. You have a super delicious meal that you made fresh, and you know everything that went into it.

5. Don’t eat until you’re full; eat until you’re not hungry. You should never leave the dinner table so stuffed that you can’t breathe. We’ve all been there. Thanksgiving comes to mind. The same goes for lunch. If you eat until full at lunch, you won’t have the energy to work the rest of the day. You’ll need a nap. An afternoon snack shouldn’t fill you. It should give you an energy boost. Eat until satisfied, then stop. It takes some practice to learn when to stop. Eating slowly will help you find your satisfaction level.

6. Eat vegetarian twice a week or more. If you learn to make vegetables in healthy delicious ways, you won’t miss meat. Meat can be fattening and has cholesterol. Try making one of your favorite meals but substitute a vegetable as the main ingredient. For example, instead of chicken parmesan, try mushrooms parmesan. See how easy it is to replace the meat.

7. Enjoy a glass of wine, not a bottle of wine. Red wine is good for you in moderation. But it has sugar and calories. Drink a glass of wine on occasion, but stop before you finish the whole bottle. Too much of a good thing is too much.

8. Replace dessert with fruit. As I study the Italian lifestyle and how to live la dolce vita, I’ve learned that Italians eat a lot of fruit. Italians love a sweetie after dinner, but they usually reach for a clementine or some berries. They know how to live the sweet life without overdoing it.

9. Dress up for motivation. Wearing lovely clothes that are fitted and make you feel good will inspire you to eat healthy.

10. Slow down. Take your time at meals and enjoy good conversation while you eat slowly. If you are eating alone, set the table with your best dishes. Chew slowly, listen to some music, enjoy each bite. Do not eat in front of the television or while standing. Make mealtime a ritual. Your body and soul will thank you.

Losing weight can seem like a big undertaking. But when you start slowly with easy lifestyle changes, it’s not difficult at all. Don’t let yourself get bored. Find ways to keep it fun. Try at least one new recipe a week. Share them with your friends.

Remember, you didn’t gain the weight overnight, so you’re not going to lose it overnight. The hardest part is getting started. Making small adjustments can help you lose the first few pounds in a healthy, natural way without feeling deprived.  You will have more energy, be more motivated, and find it easier to eat less.

What are your top tips for losing weight? Share them in the comments.