I think you will like calorie counting. You'll have a lot more choices - yay! Just focus on getting the most nutrition for the foods you choose. You will encounter most of the calories in fats (oils, mayo, deep-fried foods, cheese, butter, salad dressing, etc...) so choose small amounts of healthy fats from olive oil and low-fat cheese. Also be mindful of baked goods - this was my downfall. There is no getting around the calories in bread, bagels, tortillas and cake!
Much to my chagrin! However, the fewer of these types of foods I eat, the less I want them. Try to switch to 1/2 portions and whole wheat.
Lean protein will help keep you feeling full. Chicken breast on the bone is cheaper to buy and not pumped full of salt water. Pull off the skin before cooking. Try not to add any fat - grill or use a minimal amount of olive oil to sautee in.
Center-cut porkchops are a good source of lean protein, as are lean cuts of steak. The less marbled fat in a cut, the fewer calories. Trim as much outside fat as you can. I stick to sirloin, mostly. It is still somewhat affordable - especially if you can buy in bulk and freeze it.
I like to keep turkey franks and Italian turkey sausage handy too. They are nice substitutes when everyone else is noshing on the full-fat stuff. That way I don't feel left out.
Always fill up a a big (6 ounces or more) of salad - mixed greens, onions, grated carrot, cucumbers and top with a very low cal or reduced fat dressing. I like light Italian. I can have up to 2 servings for just 70 calories. I mix up a big bowl of salad, cover with plastic wrap and keep it visible (lower/front is best)in the refrigerator. If it is already to go, I'm more likely to eat it when I'm hungry. No need to buy those expensive pre-cut salads. Without dressing, this will keep for as long as 3 days.
Veggies (I count tomatoes in here) are "free food" in my book. Most of them have almost no calories so it stands to reason if you can fill up on these first, you won't over do it when the entree hits the table. I like most veggies raw. They seem to have lots more flavor that way.
Calorie counting and portion control go hand in hand. Start with changes you know you can sustain and then add new ideas, recipes or foods as you go. I can stuff myself with cauliflower or cabbage (don't forget the Beno), two foods I rarely used to eat. Love them now. They are bulky, filling and loaded with nutrients.
If you are a butter lover, get a bottle of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray. A few spritzes and a sprinkle of salt and your cooked veggies are quite tasty.
OK...I've gone on far longer than I had planned. I just want you to have success. I posted an article in the forum called "It's not what you can't have..." There are some helpful pointers in there too.
I wish you the very best!
I am not on a diet - I have changed the way I eat.