How to lose weight – and eat well (and maybe influence people)

Picture of vegan hamburger stolen from Minimalist Baker
What's a healthy weight?
Before you start … you should know what your ideal weight should be.
You can calculate your ideal weight and body mass index (BMI) based on your body weight and body height.

culate your BMI: your weight in kg / (your height in metres)2 
A healthy BMI lies somewhere between 18,5 and 24,9. If you are of East/South-East/South Asian decent an ideal BMI should probably not be higher than 24. You should not weigh any less than this: 
18,5 * your height in metres * your height in metres = … 

You should not weigh any more than this: 24,9 * your height in metres * your height in metres = …
(An exception is if you have lots of muscle mass because you are a bodybuilder or strength athlete.)

Losing weight – why?
For many people overweight (BMI = 25 to 29,9) and extreme overweight (obesity; BMI = 30 or higher) are a cosmetic problem – i.e. they don’t want to “look fat”. But overweight and especially obesity aren’t just cosmetic problems. Overweight – and especially abdominal fat – also cause metabolic problems and increase your risk for pretty much every chronic disease (except osteoporosis). Overweight increases inflammation in your body, and raises your risk of cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke, artery damage in your lungs or legs or eyes or sexual organs or any other organ), your risk of many different types of cancer, your risk of diabetes (and all the problems that are often caused by diabetes such as heart attack, nerve damage, blindness, amputations and sexual dysfunction) and your risk of kidney, liver and joint damage as well as breathing and pregnancy problems, and probably depression and dementia. In men overweight also lowers testosterone production. Men with obesity can also suffer from so-called buried penis.

Losing weight – why not? 
If you are already underweight you should not try to lose more weight. Underweight can damage your bones and weaken your immune system.

5 steps to eat well and lose weight

1) Don't drink calories. Don't drink sugar-sweetened beverages (Coca Cola etc.). Alcoholic drinks are high in calories, too. Avoid sugary "fruit juice drinks" (= water with sugar and a little bit of fruit juice.) 

2) Drink lots of water – you can also drink herbal teas, green or black (or white) tea, coffee or vegetable juices. If you drink fruit juice, choose only 100% fruit juices – and drink fruit juice in moderation (for example a glass a day). If you drink soya milk, choose brands without added sugar (or with less added sugar).

3) Minimize "junk food": any foods that contain a lot of added sugar, any deep-fried foods, candy bars, meat-based hamburgers, French fries, ... They are all high in calories and they are all unhealthy.

4) Eat plants. Eat more plants. You don't have to eat less food, if you want to lose weight. You can even eat more! Choose healthy plant foods: fresh fruit, raw or cooked vegetables, whole grains, legumes (tofu, beans, chickpeas, peas, etc.), and some nuts and seeds (about a handful per day, without oil and unsalted). You can also add grated carrots or radish or other vegetables (or green papaya). Eat vegetable-based starters or side dishes such as steamed or baked aubergine (eggplant) or courgette (zucchini). Try baked slices of sweet potatoes or Hokkaido pumpkin (aka red kuri squash) - these two are really tasty even just as they are, without anything added. But you can add some salt, spices, vinegar, some oil, etc. You can also try baking other types of pumpkin - but (in my experience) some pumpkins are a bit bland.   
Have a big salad to start off your meal. By salad I mean a salad based on vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc. You can make tasty dressings from vinegar and some healthy oil (such as flaxseed oil, canola oil, olive oil - don't add too much oil; 1 tablespoon is a good amount). You can add soya milk to the dressing to make it creamy (the vinegar will make the soya milk curdle and make it creamy).
Some people feel better when they eat more protein. Therefore, some people feel more satiated after meals and stay satiated for longer, if they consume more protein. Vegan protein shakes are now fairly widely available and affordable. So, it can be worth it to try having a protein shake with a meal or in between meals. Some people feel more satiated this way and end up eating fewer calories throughout the day - which helps with weight loss. Also, of course, when we say "weight loss", we mean "fat loss" and not loss of muscle. Muscles do contain fat but a healthy weight loss should result in more muscle definition and not plain muscle shrinkage. If you see your muscles shrink, for example on your thighs, it's an indicator that you should get more protein (some people require more and some require less protein).
Try starting your day by eating 4 to 5 pieces of fruit for breakfast every morning - especially types of fruit that aren't very sweet. Even though bananas are high in fibre and healthy for everyone, eating "20 bananas a day" (or 10) is probably not the best idea compared (especially if you want to lose weight). If frozen berries are available where you live, you can make a drink (or smoothie) from, for example, frozen berries (several cups) and warm/hot water (or soya milk). You can add cacao powder, some flaxseed oil (~1 teaspoon or 1 tablespoon) and spices such as cinnamon and cardamom or "nutraceutical spices" such turmeric and amla berry powder, etc. You can make smoothies with fruit and soya milk and/or water = healthy fast food. Avoid eating large amounts of fruit with other meals, because it might cause digestion problems/discomfort for you. Find fruits and vegetables that you love and eat them. The first step is to go shopping: buy more fruits and vegetables. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables of different colours. They are full of antioxidants and other plant components that are good for all of your organs, including your skin.

5) Make your food tasty! If you cook for yourself (which I recommend) add something SWEET (a tiny bit of juice/sugar), something SOUR (some lemon/vinegar), something SALTY (a little soya sauce/salt/seaweed), something FATTY (ground nuts/nut butter/a bit of olive oil or canola oil/some grated coconut) & something BITTER (most vegetables are a tiny bit bitter – so you do not have to add anything). Also use ingredients that will add the flavour UMAMI (for example tomato sauce, vinegar, nutritional yeast, yeast flakes, mushrooms, sea vegetables, olives, sauerkraut, soya sauce or other fermented foods). In addition, add
 lots of spices and/or herbs and use less salt. 

What else? And ... how do you start?
Drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Breakfast: Eat 4 to 5 pieces of fruit. 
Make a smoothie, for example. Add soya milk and add some chia seeds or ground linseeds (flax seeds).

Lunch & dinner: Make at least half of your plate vegetables. Add whole grains & legumes if you can. Avoid large amounts of meat, eggs or cheese (or avoid them completely).

Also, moving your body (sports, dancing, anything you like) & not smoking (also avoid second-hand smoke and air pollution if possible) & sleeping enough & relaxing enough are important for your health, beautiful skin, a healthy weight, and hopefully more happiness for you.
If you want to follow a vegan (like I do) or near-vegan plant-based diet you should familiarize yourself with some nutrients that are especially important for plant-based diets. See my recommendations here.
Plant-based diets are widely recommended by leading nutrition and disease prevention authorities, including the World Cancer Research Fund.