10/12/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Balanced Life: Eleven Tips That I'm Using to "Eat Very Right" (and Cut Calories).

Scale2 For the month of September, I've resolved to "eat very right." I wouldn't be able to eat this right forever -- and I wouldn't even try -- but I decided to take a boot-camp approach to cleaning up my eating habits.

1. No sweets. Not even a bite. I gave up my beloved Tasti D-Lite - ah, I miss it. I'd already pretty much given up food like cookies and cupcakes, but boy, I do love to eat candy. For mini Tootsie-Rolls, Peppermint Patties, butterscotch disks, etc, I'll have to wait until November.

2. When possible, choose fruits and vegetables, and after that, lean protein. So if I have a choice between rice and roasted vegetables, I choose vegetables. If I have a choice between pasta and fish, I choose fish.

3. Only one bowl of cereal a day. I love cereal and would eat it at every meal. Also, I do the bottomless-cereal-bowl trick, where I eat all the cereal, and when I see the milk that's left over, I fill the bowl with cereal again to use it up. Not this month.

4. Nothing in the cracker/pretzel family.

5. Keep tempting food in an inconvenient place, keep healthy food in a convenient place. When I'm hungry, everything looks good. If I see a lovely fruit salad ready to eat in the fridge, that's what I'll want to eat.

6. No juice and no alcohol.

7. No "bites" of other people's food. I take one bite of the Little Girl's grilled-cheese sandwich, then another, and then pretty soon I've eaten half a sandwich.

9. Eat at home whenever possible. My brother-in-law worked at a restaurant, and he told me that whatever you might order, and however it might be prepared, it has tons of butter on it.

10. No bread from a bread basket, and no bread as a snack. Well, except that sometimes, when I really need a quick, fast snack that I can eat on the run, I toast a whole-wheat pita pocket and eat that.

11. Don't eat when I'm not hungry; eat as soon as I do get hungry.

When I told my sister about the changes I was making, she said, "You basically eat very well. Why cut this stuff out altogether? You can have treats once in a while. It's a more sustainable way to eat."

Well, yes and no. I wouldn't want to try to live by these rules forever, but the fact is, it's easier for me to give things up altogether than to indulge moderately. I agree with Samuel Johnson, who wrote, "Abstinence is as easy to me as temperance would be difficult."

Take Tasti D-Lite, which I was eating twice, sometimes three times, a day. It's easier for me to give up Tasti D-Lite altogether than to eat it three times a week. I'd spend way too much energy thinking about whether I should have it today, or tomorrow, or now, or later this afternoon, or whether this cone should "count" or whether I should get a freebie for some reason. For me, a happier approach is to give it up altogether, so I don't fret about it.

Speaking of Tasti D-Lite, it's a good example of how something that's allegedly healthier for you can actually lead you to make less healthy choices. I would never, in a million years, eat an ice-cream cone every day. But because Tasti D-Lite doesn't "count" as ice cream, or a "real" dessert, I eat a ton of it.

In the same way, when I gave up fake food, I realized that although I'd never eat a candy bar every day, I was eating "health bars" every day, when I would have been better off eating real food, like soup or salad or a smoothie, instead.

Have you found any tips to help yourself to "eat very right"?

If you'd like to read more about happiness, check out Gretchen's daily blog, The Happiness Project, or sign up for her monthly newsletter.