Introduction to weight loss
Being overweight can put your health at risk. Losing even a small amount of weight can make a big difference.
Every little bit counts. Losing 1–2lb (1⁄2–1kg) per week is ideal. As little as 12lb (5kg) can help you to:
• feel better;
• build your confidence;
• feel less tired;
• increase your energy levels;
• move about more easily;
• reduce breathlessness;
• reduce back and joint pain;
• lower blood pressure and cholesterol;
• reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Weight gain is all about how much energy (calories) you take into your body through food and how much energy your body uses.
Making small changes every day to reduce the calories you take in and increase the activity you do will help you manage your weight. It is easier to fit small changes into your day-to-day life than to change everything in one go.
Eat three meals each day and reduce the size of the portions.
• Start the day with cereal and a piece of fruit or a glass of fruit juice.
• Have at least five portions of fruit or vegetables every day.
• Take a packed lunch if this helps you to have a healthier meal.
• Plan ahead for your family food shopping and meals.
• Avoid extra snacks and drinks containing fat and sugar.
• Have plenty to drink, including water.
• Try to avoid using food as a reward or for comfort.
Becoming more active
Aim to cut down on activities that involve little movement, such as watching television and using the computer.
Add a little activity as part of your daily routine – use the stairs rather than the lift, get off the bus one stop early, walk up escalators.
Find times in the day when you can take a brisk walk – several 10 minute walks are as beneficial as one longer walk.
Identify ways of becoming more active as a family – try walking, swimming, cycling, dancing or playing together in the park.
Make activities part of your social life – meet up with a friend or neighbour for a daily walk.
Think of ways of becoming more active that you will enjoy, like dancing, bowling or gardening.
Be realistic and make as much time in your day as you can to be more active. You can do it as several short bursts of 10 minutes.
Starting and maintaining a balanced diet
Below is a list of 7 of our most useful and effective tips on starting and maintaining a well balanced diet.
1. Choose wholegrain versions of carbohydrates e.g. whole wheat pasta, brown rice, wholemeal bread or wholegrain breakfast cereals.
2. Have fruit or vegetables in every meal and snack – and eat a rainbow of colours.
3. Include some lean protein in your meals e.g. skinless chicken, eggs, fish, Quorn, pulses or lean beef.
4. Include at least 3 portions of low fat dairy foods or calcium fortified dairy alternatives each day. 1 portion = 30g cheese or 250ml glass of milk or 125g pot of yogurt.
5. Choose foods containing good fats e.g. nuts, seeds, avocado, fresh salmon, tuna or mackerel.
6. Keep portions of treats small and infrequent e.g. a few squares of chocolate or 1 biscuit.
7. Follow the 80:20 rule – eat well 80% of the time so the other 20% you can enjoy a few treats.