"The body is not some simple machine that processes every kind of calorie the same which is the assumption people have when they starve themselves or eat junk -but count the calories."
This is true, but weight loss does come down to calorie expenditure. You need to consume less calories than you expend to lose weight, it really is that simple. (Though, as I said earlier, losing weight is the wrong goal, losing fat should be the goal, IMO). You can eat only candy bars and lose weight, as long as your caloric intake is less than your caloric expenditure. You probably won't be very healthy, but you can lose weight. And a meal of only fruits and veggies will cause you to gain weight if you eat more, calorically, then you expend.
Now that's not to say that a calorie is a calorie (technically, yes, but...) food has thermic properties that react in your body in different ways. But that's getting a whole lot deeper than I can get in a forum posting.
Anyway, there are a lot of practical ways to lose weight/fat and get healthier. Your's, Brian, is one, but not the only one. There's nothing wrong with eating grains, it won't necessarily make you hungry, and lean meat is a good thing, not a bad thing. There are certainly good fats that should be part of a balanced diet. There are also bad fats which should be avoided and help clog your arteries and such. Just like calories, all fat is not the same. And calorie counting is not torture for some (though it would be for me!).
So, like everything else, there are a lot of different ways to get to the goal. Use the one that works best for you, just do some homework before you engage. There are a lot of fad diets and such that are pretty useless. Some are even harmful.
The mind is a critical factor in all of it. I'll recommend one book that I think can assist anyone who has had trouble in the past sticking to a plan: The Body Fat Solution by Tom Venuto. Worth checking out.