When it comes to losing weight, it can be difficult to even know where to begin. The weight loss industry is filled with conflicting advice, misinformation and dangerous products that can do far more harm than good. Trying to weed through all of this information to find a safe, effective diet plan can leave you feeling discouraged and confused. The good news is that dieting and losing weight doesn\'t have to be so complicated. Instead, developing a basic understanding of what works and what doesn\'t can help you reach your goals in no time at all. Check out the following dieting dos and don\'ts to build an effective plan that will work for you.

One of the most common mistakes that people make when trying to lose weight is turning to diet pills, hoping for a quick, simple fix. It\'s easy to see why diet supplements have become a multi-billion dollar industry. After all, who wouldn\'t love to just take a pill and have the pounds magically melt away?

Unfortunately, the truth is that the vast majority of diet pills simply don\'t live up to their promises. Instead, all they do is leave dieters discouraged while lining the pockets of the companies that make them. Worst of all, these pills can often cause unwanted health problems, in some cases even resulting in death. Because of the minimal benefit, the high cost and the potential health risks, you should avoid taking diet pills when trying to lose weight.

Rather than looking for a quick fix, you should focus your attention on developing healthy eating habits that you can use for the rest of your life. Start by determining how many calories you need to eat each day. There are countless free tools online to help you determine your basal metabolic rate -- how many calories your body burns each day -- so you can know precisely how much food to eat to start losing weight.

Once you have done the math and figured out your daily caloric needs, then you can design a healthy eating plan that falls within those limits. When you make smart food choices, you may just be surprised by how much food you can actually eat while still losing weight.

Center your diet around lean protein, health carbs, fruits and vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Keep in mind that even healthy food can be delicious. Although you may miss eating sweets and junk food initially, before long you will begin to enjoy eating healthy food that gives your body the nutrition that it needs.

Although it is important to focus on healthy eating, that doesn\'t mean you have to entirely deprive yourself of the foods you love. Instead, work them into your daily diet plan in moderation. For example, if you love chocolate, allow yourself a few chocolate kisses or a frozen fudge pop each day. These small treats are relatively low on calories and can help keep you from feeling deprived. Make a list of foods you love and look for ways to incorporate them into your diet while still staying within your daily caloric limit.

Dieting doesn\'t have to be hard. Once you sit down and determine how much food you need to eat, the rest is just a matter of making smart choices and sticking with your diet plan for the long haul. Within a couple of weeks, healthy eating will start to become a habit, allowing you to not only reach your goals, but to maintain your weight loss for years to come. In short, if a diet claim seems too good to be true, it probably is. Use common sense and avoid diet pills and expensive weight loss programs. Before you know it you will have reached your goals.