Cut way back on meat. It's the biggest cost of a food budget and has a lot of fat in it. Instead, eat beans, which are high in protein.
Lots of vegetables will fill you up, provide fiber, and lot of healthy nutrients. Lots and lots of vegetables!
As many fruits as you can afford also.
Stay away from fried foods. Don't go to fast food restaurants. Try to cut as much fat out of your diet as possible.
Don't deny yourself something completely or you will end up craving it and then binging on it. Instead, just limit the amount you eat and only eat it once a week.
Drink lots of fluids. Frozen juices are inexpensive, and canned vegetable juice is a good price too. (I like to mix the veg. juice with apple juice).
Powdered cocoa has very few calories and almost no fat. Use your imagination to get your “chocolate fix”
Buy 1% milk instead of regular.
Eat 3 SMALL, WELL-BALANCED meals a day. Keep the fresh veggies & fruit juice on hand. Once you get used to it you won't crave the “wrong” foods as much.
Don't try to or want to lose a huge amount of weight too fast. The weight should come off slowly, about 2-4 lbs. a week. If you lose it too fast you will end up gaining it back too easily. Don't think of this as a “diet”. Think of this as “healthier eating”. These habits should stay with you, especially if you have a problem with weight.
Get active in some exercise. Start walking 30 minutes a day, then walk more when you can. The exercise will change your body chemistry and make you feel better. Exercise promotes the production of endorphins–the “feel good” hormones.
How do I know any of this? Common sense. In the last 5 weeks I've lost 17 pounds.