Medically speaking, there is no such thing as cellulite. It is just plain, old body fat that clumps and bumps on the thighs, tummy, and hips of up to 90% of women. You get rid of it just the same way as you would get rid of any body fat, with these 4 guidelines (along with exercise, of course!):

1. Lose weight gradually. Cut 100 to 600 calories from your current intake that, when combined with the 400 calories you will burn daily in exercise, will result in a one to two pound weight loss each week. This ensures you lose the fat in those dimples (you will be losing water and muscle if you drop weight more rapidly!). Cutting 100 calories can be as simple as eliminating a tablespoon of butter or margarine from your daily diet.

2. Cut out the junk. The more processed a food, the higher its calories, fat, and/or sugar and the lower its fiber. Compared to fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and other “real” foods, many processed foods are “calorie dense,” that is – they pack a big calorie bang for their nutrient buck. (Hint: There is 440 calories in one 12-Grain Bran Muffin at Starbucks compared to 86 calories in a slice of whole wheat bread). The combined effect of more calories and less fiber means these foods are less likely to fill us up, so we gobble more and gain weight. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta found that the more calorie-dense processed foods people consume, the more body fat they accumulate, while the more real foods they included in their diets, the lower their calorie intakes and body weights.

In addition, dietary fat, which is a big contributor to a food’s caloric density, is more fattening than protein or carbs. Dietary fat is more readily stored as body fat, if only because the body must work harder to convert carbohydrates and protein to body fat, while dietary fat can be stored as is. That increased work equates to a slight loss of calories. In short, the combination of daily exercise plus a low-fat, fiber-rich diet places the body in a calorie deficit that promotes fat loss.

3. Watch portions. Heap the plate with produce and watch portions of everything else. Too much of anything (except vegetables) can cause weight gain if you end up consuming more calories than you burn in exercise. It also is as much about what you pour into your glass as what you stack on the plate. Calories in drinks add up quickly, yet don’t fill us up, so are extra calories added onto what we already eat. This goes for any clear liquid – from soft drinks to martinis. In fact, researchers at the University of Minnesota conclude that soft drinks are “…one of the primary culprits in the escalating rates of obesity..” Alcoholic beverages are no better, with popular drinks, such as Margaritas, Cosmos, and Long Island ice teas packing 100s of calories per glass. Stick to recommended portions of grains, cheese, and meat; switch to diet soft drinks or water, and drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.

In contrast, vegetables and fruits are Mother Nature’s perfect “diet” foods, packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals and low in fat and calories. Fruits and vegetables are the tried-and-true core, the very basis, of a successful weight-loss diet. They fill you up without filling you out, which explains why study after study shows – the more colorful produce a person adds to the diet, the easier time they have managing their weight and the lower their risk for all major diseases. Studies from the Pennsylvania State University confirm this finding that a tossed salad (light on the dressing!) or a glass of V8 juice prior to a meal takes the edge off appetite, so people eat fewer calories, yet feel full and satisfied.

Aim for 9 servings a day of fresh, frozen, cooked, and raw, with a few being juiced or dried. To reach this goal, include at least two fruits and/or vegetables at every meal and at least one at every snack. That does not mean you must eat eight different fruits and vegetables; you can double a serving to reach this goal.

4. Graze, don’t gorge. Large, infrequent meals might set up a feast-or-famine scenario where the body stores more calories as a safeguard against what it perceives as a famine. In contrast, divide the same amount of calories into five or more little meals and snacks and you trigger the body to “burn” the food for immediate energy rather than store it in the hips and thighs. Space meals, starting with breakfast, so that no more than four hours goes by between a light meal or snack. Definitely do not skip meals! You will overeat later in the day, and be tempted by all the wrong foods!