As a sweeping generalisation, we seek pleasure and avoid pain.

In other words, we tend to make life choices that will bring us satisfaction and we don't knowingly put ourselves in danger.

Each of us defines pain and pleasure differently but that doesn't change the general premise.

How is this relevant to weight loss? If I think back to my yo-yo dieting days, I was always catapulted into some mammoth diet effort after I had experienced extreme pain. Not physical pain but personal pain, disappointment and fear.

I well remember disastrous shopping expeditions when my size hit me with a sudden, awful shock. That shock and distaste always made me take action.

That defining pain will hit each individual differently. Some may be shocked by a doctor's warning, others may suddenly realise how unfit they are after trying to run with children or grandchildren.

Most days, the pain of our size rumbles in the background. We get used to it. We convince ourselves it isn't so bad and we'll deal with it "tomorrow".

But if our overweight gives us constant pain, why then don't we take action that is permanent so we can remove those negative feelings once and for all?

The answer is we have come to see the solution as even more painful. We regard diets as deprivation. We fear hunger, we fear social dislocation and we fear failure.

In short, it seems less painful to take no action.

These fears of dieting are real. Weight-loss programmes that leave you hungry are doomed.

The suffering of the solution becomes greater than the suffering of the problem itself and you would rather stay put.

Looking at the first three letters of the word DIEt, you wonder whether it is possible dieting could be anything other than suffering.

This doesn't have to be the case if you take a fresh approach to weight loss. Most of the time it isn't your basic diet that needs to change.

It's a fact many of us need to eat more fruit and vegetables. But assuming you're not having high-fat takeaways daily, you can continue to eat normal food and lose weight.

It is certainly worthwhile taking a look at your overall nutrition but you don't need to change everything overnight.

Drastic change is doomed. Instead, put the spotlight on those eating habits that may be more responsible for your weight than your basic meals.

For example, ask yourself honestly how much food you Hoover up when you are clearing away a meal.

Ask yourself how often you eat mindlessly while watching television when you know you're not hungry.

How often do you tuck into office biscuits just after lunch?

How often do you eat nibbles when you're out socially just before sitting down to a meal?

All these habits add up to a lot of calories. Put them under the spotlight and tackle them one by one.

You may find conventional dieting isn't even necessary.

Enjoy the road to the pleasure of painless weight loss.

Weight watching is written by Dr Judy Citron. You can get support from Judy and her team of DietCoaches by joining her telephone weight-loss classes, right from your own home. "You lose weight and you're not on a diet. It's amazing." Phone free for more information on 0800 074 0260 or visit the web site at