Before I begin, it's important for me to point out that counting calories, weighing food and other similar approaches can and have worked for people. It's my view, however, that this is time consuming, problematic for many people, and on the whole, unsustainable over the long term. Below are my 5 recommendations to get your eating under control, without having to weigh anything, or worry about nutrient deficiencies.
Make protein the base of every meal. If you're a meat eater, this is simple enough, if you're not, a little more complex. Red meat especially, is a complete protein, and boasts a whole host of other micronutrients. If you're not a fan of red meat, seafood and white meat will do. Dairy, especially hard cheese and Greek yoghurt are great options too, as are eggs. If you don't eat meat, there are many vegetarian and vegan options, but getting complete protein combinations requires a little thought. Protein is the most important macronutrient, and also the most satiating. By making this the base of each meal, the most important box is ticked!
Avoid food from packets. They're not necessarily unhealthier gram for gram. There are some key considerations when we talk about only using whole ingredients though. Firstly, you're more connected to the process of preparing and cooking your food. This will make you more grateful for it, more aware of where it came from, but also by adding steps into the process, you're removing the ease of overeating. It's a lot harder to eat a bag of crisps if there simply aren't any in the house!
Avoid pseudo health foods. Again, these MAY not be any less healthy than whole foods, but, they often are - many are packed with added sugar - but they also tend to be very unsatisfying. If you're trying to change the way you eat, your view of food is important, and the mentality of continually trying to find foods that are loopholes to satisfy your sweet tooth will delay the process. Additionally, clinging to these substitutes may be the reason you don't fully appreciate the flavours in naturally sweet foods, such as fruit.
Stop snacking. This is tough for some people, and seemingly impossible for others. But snacking is a habit, and ordinarily a result of ingrained actions, boredom, cravings, or a combination of these. It's very seldom due to hunger. Snacks are also the time you're most likely to reach for a less than ideal option, because you're in a rush, stressed and usually not stood in a well equipped kitchen!
Remove empty calories. Refined grains are huge here. They offer almost no nutrient value beyond their calorific content. That means that to get the nutrients you need, but still hit the right quantity of food, you have a much smaller allowance into which to jam all the nutrients you need. Pick more nutrient dense foods such as organ meats, shellfish and some vegetables. Just be aware that some vegetables can be digestively disruptive for some people, and their nutrients tend not to be as bioavailable as animal sources.