Expert advice to help you maintain a healthy weight
Dissatisfied with your weight?
We're bombarded with scare stories about weight, from size zero to the obesity 'epidemic'. But a healthy weight is determined by different factors for each of us. Our expert advice is designed to help you achieve and maintain a healthy, life-enhancing weight.
Overweight or underweight?
Being the right weight has a positive effect on wellbeing but also on our health, as being the wrong weight can cause a range of medical problems.
Take a long, hard look at what you eat and how active you really are, work out what you need to change and use the following principles to adapt your lifestyle.
A gram of fat contains twice as many calories as a gram of carbohydrate or protein. Reduce high-fat foods in your diet, choose lower or fat-reduced options, use cooking oil and spreads sparingly and remove excess fat from meat.
Include lower calorie options in your diet, such as fruit and vegetables. Bulky fibre-rich foods are also a good choice.
Try switching from white to wholemeal bread, or choose a wholegrain breakfast cereal.
Think about portion sizes
Portion sizes have increased over the years, especially when it comes to ready meals and snack foods. This means we're consuming extra calories, but we adapt quickly to eating bigger portions and don't tend to feel fuller as a result.
Downsize potatoes, pasta, rice and fatty and sugary foods, and super size fruit and vegetables.
Watch what you're drinking
Cut sugar-rich drinks and alcohol, and instead choose water, tea, coffee or artificially sweetened drinks.
Sugary drinks add extra calories to your diet but don't make you feel full or satisfied.
Keep a balanced diet
Remember the principles of a balanced diet - include plenty of fruit and vegetables (at least five portions a day), unrefined foods with more fibre, lean meats and low-fat dairy products.
Becoming more active doesn't necessarily mean sweating it out in a gym. Instead, try the following:
Choose activities you enjoy and try to spend more time each week on these
Incorporate more activity into everyday life
Buy a pedometer and increase the number of steps you take each day
Another good way to become more active is to focus on spending less time sitting down. At home, limit the time you spend watching TV or in front of a computer screen. At work, take regular breaks and if you want to talk to a colleague, walk to their desk instead of sending an email.
Fad diets don't work
Diets that promise quick, effortless weight loss are best avoided. You may lose weight initially, but they're often difficult to follow in the long term. Often they're also very restrictive and may not provide all the nutrients your body needs.
Fad diets are those that:
Promise a quick, easy fix with rapid weight loss
Suggest that certain foods 'burn fat'
Promote the eating of just one of two foods
Have lots of rules about how to eat
Sound too good to be true
Many people who lose weight tend to regain it over time. You can minimise the chance of this by making permanent changes to your lifestyle - by switching to low-calorie drinks and low-fat spreads, for example, or by eating smaller portions. Regular physical activity appears to be especially important in maintaining weight loss.
The following factors are important for maintaining weight loss:
Small, permanent dietary changes
Regular physical activity
Support from family and friends
Although no one would suggest yo-yo dieting is a good thing, there's little evidence it's harmful to health. However, it's disappointing and can reduce your confidence and motivation.
Recognise that in the period immediately following a diet you're at high risk of weight gain and you need to take specific steps to avoid it.
Remember to weigh yourself regularly. If you notice your weight increasing, take action immediately. Don't let a minor lapse become a major problem.