For many people, the word "diet" is synonymous with hunger. But you don't need to endure a grumbling tummy to shave a few pounds off your weight. According to the Mayo Clinic, simply bypassing one high-calorie indulgence each day can be a painless way to eat fewer calories.

While you're at it, why not make it even simpler? If you're used to eating cookies for dessert each day, try cutting back on a single cookie. You can try this technique with other favorite snacks as well. By trimming your treats, you may be able to lose a little weight without a lot of stress.

Over time, small healthy changes like these may make a big difference. Once you've got your cookie-cutting down pat, don't stop there. Consider these additional ideas from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for "small steps" inspiration at every meal.

Breakfast

Start your day off right with these calorie-shaving tips:

  • Use fat-free milk on your cereal instead of whole or 2-percent milk (saves 63 calories)--you can also try pouring less cereal into your bowl.
  • If you're scrambling eggs, use cooking spray instead of butter in the pan (saves 34 calories)--you could also make your eggs with eggs whites only.
  • Ditch butter on your toast for reduced-calorie margarine spread--using two pats of margarine spread rather than the same amount of butter saves you 36 calories. Better yet, try one pat.

Lunch

Cruise through the noon hour lighter by eating smarter:

  • Replace fries or chips with salad or fruit. If you eat a half-cup of diced raw pineapple instead of a one-ounce bag of potato chips, you'll spare yourself 118 calories. If you must eat chips, start by eating one less than usual--and move up to eating just half of a one-ounce single serving bag instead of the whole thing.
  • Substitute veggies for meat or cheese on your sandwich. If you trade a slice of cheese (three-quarters ounce) and two slices of ham (one ounce) for two tomato slices, a quarter cup of sliced cucumbers, and two slices of onion, you'll drop 154 calories in the bargain. If you do find yourself craving ham and cheese, try using just one slice of ham or a half-slice of cheese.

Dinner

It's tough to maintain healthy eating habits into the evening, but it's important to keep trying:

  • Grill or steam your veggies rather than cooking them in oil or butter (saves 62 calories).
  • If pizza's on your dinner menu, top it with just a light amount of cheese and vegetables rather than meats. A slice of cheese pizza has 60 fewer calories than a slice with meat and cheese. And stick with one slice rather than two!
  • Choose between a cocktail and a dessert when eating out instead of indulging in both for a significant calorie savings. For example, you'll either save around 153 calories from skipping a 12-ounce beer, or around 277 calories from passing on an average slice of apple pie.

HealthAhead Hint: One Cookie May Make a Difference

You can see now that there are many ways to put the "cookie goal" into practice, no matter what type of food you're eating and no matter which meal. Get creative and cut where it counts--a little bit less on your lips may make a big difference on your hips!