For many people cutting calories is invariably synonym with deprivation or even sacrifice. However, it is not necessary to give up your favorite foods in order to be slimmer. In fact, sticking to small changes can be a sounder strategy than making huge changes to your routines over a short period of time.

As you may know, cutting only 3500 calories will translate into 1 pound of fat lost. A few simple substitutions can help you achieve your weight loss goals a lot faster. Here are a few transitions you can make in order to start cutting calories painlessly:

Have a salad before the main course. Research shows that this can help you consume approximately 10% less calories than you would otherwise. However, don’t automatically assume that salads are a low calorie option. When you order a salad make sure to skip the croutons and opt for vinaigrette dressing instead of mayo to keep the calorie intake low. Mayo can also be substituted with mustard.

On the other hand, you can also indulge in your favorite dressing once in a while as long as you are smart about it. Ask for your favorite dressing on the side to be able to control better the amount you use.

If you choose to eat steamed vegetables, try adding flavor using lemon and thyme instead of butter.

Liquid calories are another important factor that can cause weight gain. Even healthy beverages can pack a surprising amount of calories. That’s why it is recommendable to consume fruits instead of fruit juices. Not only do fruits contain more fiber, but they also have fewer calories and a lower glycemic index.

A simple option to cut calories, yet still satisfy your cravings for fruit juice, is to dilute it with water. You will still get the taste you want with half the calories.

Also remember that a glass of wine has significantly less calories than a glass of cocktail.

Reaching for an espresso instead of a mocha latte at least a few times a week will help you avoid extra calories. Skipping whipped cream is another rather obvious option you can try.

Try freezing fruit juice and making sorbet instead of a similar calorie-laden dessert.

Try using one less tbs of butter than a recipe calls for. A single tablespoon of butter has no less than 100 calories and a whooping 12 grams of fat.

If you are not willing to make any compromises when it comes to the pizza recipe, try simply using an absorbent paper towel to soak up some of the grease and cut calories while still enjoying all the marvelous flavors. Asking for half the cheese will also help you with about 50 calories less per slice. Also, choose a thin crust over a thick one.

If you are craving spaghetti try substituting Alfredo sauce with marinara sauce.

If sharing your sweet tooth sounds appealing, try sharing the dessert with a friend.

Vegetarian options typically have less calories and saturated fat compared to meat based recipes.

Eat open faced sandwiches. You can also try replacing Swiss cheese with hummus.

Try buying a small bag of popcorn instead of a bag of chips.

Try baked potatoes instead of mashed potatoes.

When you plan on eating steak, make sure the portion is smaller than your palm.

Try eating from slightly smaller plates and avoid going for seconds.

If you feel like snacking in front of the TV, measure your snacks by placing them into a small clear bowl to avoid mindless eating and to keep yourself accountable.