(CNN) -- Six years ago if you had wanted to pick a prime target for obesity it would have been me. And I was co-operating by staying right in the cross hairs. As a food critic and cookbook writer my job entailed a lot of eating. In ten years I went from 172 to 205. The doctor told me I had two choices: lose weight or get ready to meet my Maker.
Nothing against God, but I wasn't ready for a rendezvous yet. I had to change my diet, but I could not and would not give up delicious food. Guess what? By eating the right stuff and avoiding the wrong stuff, I took off 40 pounds and kept them off.
It's doable and it's delicious. It just requires some not very difficult steps, so simple that although people keep telling us what they are we keep looking for magic diets. Forget about magic and use your noggin. Common sense will do the trick. My problem wasn't unique, nearly 40 percent of Americans have the same issue and 100 percent of them can take the same simple actions I did.
Five ways to maximize your FPC (Flavor Per Calorie): Peter Kaminsky
1. Buy the best most flavorful ingredients you can afford
Second rate ingredients need to be rescued with gobs of cheese, loads of bacon, piles of salt and sugar, but fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables are already maxed out on flavor. It's a no brainer this time of year to eat the right stuff and cheaper too!
No diss to bacon or cheese. They are good ingredients, just not cure alls for lousy food.
2. Not just vegetables, either
Same goes for meat, fish, poultry. Buy the best. The free-range, organic stuff costs more but I will bet you that you will be more satisfied with less of the full-flavored stuff.
Don't take my word for it. Try some side by side tastings yourself. More FPC means quicker satisfaction with less food. As for people who tell you this is elitist - hey, it's the way they ate in the Bible, or when they wrote the Constitution. Natural ingredients are, well...natural.
3. Salads, not seconds
You really don't need to go back for seconds. It's just force of habit. If you must, then fill up on salad. Lots of flavor, lots of volume, less calories.
4. Cook, or live with someone who does
Restaurants are a great pleasure. Take out food a great convenience, but you ain't gonna lose weight eating off a menu.
Cooking isn't hard (look how many people have been doing it for thousands of years). It's the best way to bring out all the FPC in ingredients - from the crust on a steak, to the creaminess of an eggplant, to the richness of a roasted chicken.
5. Keep an eye on the sugar
Avoid potatoes, white flour, white rice, more than two beers or two glasses or wine. In other words stay away from the stuff that turns to sugar in your bloodstream faster than you can say "turns to sugar in your bloodstream." Next thing that happens the sugar turns to fat.
I'm not the first guy to say this. I'm also not the first guy to say "eat your vegetables." But if you do, you will lose weight and keep it off. Sure thing.