Weight gain and obesity are a twenty-first-century health issue. With all of this temptation surrounding us, it’s easy to go up a dress size without even noticing it. However, by adopting these simple healthier lifestyle steps shared with us from the British Nutrition Foundation into your daily regime, alongside a careful exercise programme, you can drastically reduce the extra weight you’ve been carrying.
How can I maintain a healthy body weight?
Being overweight increases the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. In order to maintain a healthy body weight, it is necessary to consume roughly the same amount of energy (calories) as your body uses for normal bodily functions and physical activity. Reducing fat intake can often help cut back on calories but it is also important to reduce your amount of ‘free sugars.’ ‘Free sugars’ are added to foods by manufacturers, cooks and consumers (such as table sugar) as well as sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juice. It’s worth noting that sugars found in fruits and vegetables and in milk and milk products such as plain yoghurt and cheese are not classed as free sugars. Foods that are often high in fat and/or free sugars include cakes, biscuits, pastries, desserts, deep fried foods, crisps, butter, cream, chocolate, sweets, some cheeses and oils/spreads, so try to eat these foods less often.
Remember the following when selecting and preparing food to help reduce your daily calorie intake and aim to consume a healthy, balanced diet:
- Base meals on starchy foods, whole grain and high fibre versions where possible, such as wholemeal bread, wholemeal pasta, brown rice and potatoes with skins and plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Remove visible fat from meat, skin from poultry, buy lean cuts wherever possible and try replacing some meat in your diet with pulses
- Grill, bake, poach or steam foods instead of frying or roasting them
- Choose low-fat, unsweetened dairy products (e.g. skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, reduced-fat cheese and low-fat plain yoghurt)
- Use reduced fat spreads where possible and opt for those high in unsaturated fats, see our article Make Sure You Eat the Good Fats for more information on this
- Choose tomato-based rather than creamy sauces
- Cook from scratch wherever possible
- Opt for low-calorie drinks such as unsweetened tea and coffee or plain water rather than sugars-sweetened options
- Limit fruit juice to 150ml per day. Try diluting it with water to make it go further.
- If you are hungry between meals, snack on fresh fruit and vegetables rather than foods high in fat and/or free sugar
- Eat more fibre – adults should be aiming to consume 30 g fibre per day to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colon cancer. Fibre-rich foods include wholegrain foods, potatoes with skins, fruit and vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds.