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Sensible slimming

The problem with quick-fix diets
Quick-fix diets are usually short-term with a rigid set of rules. While you may lose weight, the diets are often too constraining to sustain for long. They're also likely to be nutritionally inadequate, could lead to problems such as iron deficiency or poor bone health and don't help you to address your real obstacles to losing weight and keeping it off. Plus, they can make you lose confidence in your ability to slim successfully.

Stay active
Being more active in daily life helps to boost your mood and self-esteem, regulate (not increase) appetite, maintain muscle and make long-term success more likely.

Be realistic
Expecting more from your weight-loss programme than is really feasible only sets you up for failure, so be realistic about how much weight you'll lose and how quickly. Developing skills to achieve the lifestyle changes needed to reach your realistic goals is the safe and sensible approach.

A healthy diet also helps to reduce your risk of health problems such as heart disease

Nourish body and mind
Keeping your diet balanced while you slim helps ensure your body - and mind - gets the nutrients it needs to stay healthy, alert and active. Having regular meals and including small amounts of favourite foods keeps it satisfying too. A healthy diet also helps to reduce your risk of health problems such as heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, cataracts and lung disorders.

Think small
The energy content of 1lb (0.5kg) of body fat is 3,500 calories. So to lose 1lb a week, a 500 calorie 'deficit' is needed each day (7 x 500 = 3,500). This is best achieved by making small changes to eat fewer calories and be more active. For example, swap a chocolate bar for a banana (save 150 calories) and a small pot of reduced-calorie for standard coleslaw (save 240 calories) and add two 15-minute brisk walks (burn 150 calories) for a 540 calorie deficit.

There's no single right way to lose weight. But it's important to do it in a healthy and realistic way. This allows you to get the nutrients you need, feel positive about helping your health and wellbeing, and get on with living your life. It also means you'll be developing new skills and attitudes to help you keep the weight off.

Dos and don'ts

  • Feel that with the right skills you can control your weight and that it's a positive thing to do.
  • Think about which diets (or elements of them) were helpful in the past and which weren't. Use this information to plan helpful changes and avoid past mistakes.
  • Plan to make small and sustainable lifestyle changes.
  • Keep a food and thoughts diary to help you identify problem areas and stay conscious of what and why you eat.
  • Set realistic goals and aim to lose no more than one to two pounds a week.
  • Eat regular meals, starting with breakfast.
  • Base your meals on a variety of healthy choices from the main food groups.
  • Experiment with your low-fat cooking skills.
  • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
  • Adopt a flexible rather than all-or-nothing approach to eating.
  • Learn how to cope with feelings, not feed them.
  • Be more active more often in your daily life.
  • Make time for 30 minutes moderate activity most days.
  • Enlist some ongoing support.


  • Be lured by claims for rapid weight loss offered by quick-fix diets.
  • Use appearance as your only motivation to lose weight - improved health and wellbeing are also vital.
  • Give up if you feel you've had a bad day or eaten too much - the lapse isn't the problem, but your reaction to it could be.
  • Rely on a diet to solve your weight problems. It can provide pointers, but you must develop the skills and confidence to do it for yourself.
  • Get impatient with gradual weight loss - remember, it's more likely to end in long-term success.

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