And I don't agree with those who say "a calorie is a calorie." I have seen with myself that while total calories are always a consideration, it's the composition of the foods that make all the different in my own case. If I ate 1500 calories of eggs, leans meats & veggies I'd be fine and probably lose weight. If I ate 1500 calories of breads/starches/fruit/sugar things I'd bloat up like a pig and put on 10 pounds very quickly doing that for a few days.
Control your cravings by limiting, or preferably eliminating sugars, starches, and other high carb-low nutrient foods. It only takes a couple of days to lose ALL the cravings.
I think you are totally right about this. If you eat 1500 empty calories - then you're just hungry and irritable too. I've been watching The Biggest Loser (looking for motivation!) and they mentioned that you cannot burn calories if your body is processing sugar. That makes total sense to me. I have almost the exact same problem as you - I'm 8 days from my "year anniversary" and have put on quite a bit of weight this year. I'm absorbing food for once, but haven't changed the amount I eat. I also had the - I have to give up so much - but I can still have candy - mentality. That's been hard for me. My big problem is hunger. I started my diet Jan 1 and I'm hungry all of the time. I don't count calories - I do weight watchers - and have been trying to exercise everday. I'm going to try and cut out the candy starting tomorrow!