So this might not be a popular reply but it’s the only thing that has ever worked for me. I don’t believe in moderation. At all. I think that if you are like me, the type of person who’s weight goes up and down, who clearly has a weight problem, then moderation will not work. Obviously it is somewhat calories in, calories out, but you should focus on eating genuinely healthy meals, not being hungry, and actually changing your relationship with food, not just counting how many calories you eat each day! But I think different things work for different people, so for people who lost weight and kept it off another way, good for you!
About 9 months ago, I just went cold turkey on my eating habits. I “cold turkey” cut sugar, grains, soda, sweeteners of any and all kinds (including artificial and sugar-free), soy, legumes, unhealthy fats and dairy. It’s called a whole30 (you can google for the website and info about it). After that, I added back in some of the things, including dairy, legumes, soy and some grains. Doing that diet for 30 days totally changed how I felt about food. The diet also encourages eating 3 balanced meals a day, as much food as you want at a meal, but limiting snacks. Every meal should be protein and veggies (including carb-y veg) and healthy fats. You are not supposed to feel hungry, but you are also not supposed to eat to feed anything other than true hunger. (This diet literally makes you put into practice the idea that you’re not truly hungry unless you’d eat steamed broccoli and salmon.)
While that degree of strict dieting isn’t sustainable, what it does is make you realize a) how often you reach for food for a reason other than hunger and b) how when you cut all junk, you generally stop craving junk. I do eat more reasonably now, but haven’t gained any of my weight back. I do notice the minute I treat myself (moderation), I immediately want to eat all of the junk food. I cannot have toast with peanut butter for breakfast, because then all day I want cookies. I need to have eggs, veggies and avocado for breakfast, with black coffee. I also learned what foods make me feel like crud (soy, dairy except yogurt, gluten grains) and which are okay (rice, quinoa, oats, yogurt).