WHY MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT?
Being overweight increases the risk of health problems such as Syndrome X, joint pains, backache, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Balance is the key for good health. The right combination of enjoyable, nutritious foods and physical activity will help you maintain a healthy body weight and live a happy life. Everyone is different but your doctor or dietitian can give you an idea of the healthy weight range for your height and age.
WHAT IS A HEALTHY WEIGHT
You can get a rough idea of what your healthy weight is using a range of measurements. Look up height and weight charts, calculate your Body Mass Intake (BMI 18.5- 24.9 is the healthy range), or measure your waist (healthy range <94 cm for men and 80 cm for women). A healthy weight is different for each person influenced by ethnicity, weight history and genes. For your ideal healthy weight it is best to consult your doctor or dietitian.
We need to balance the energy we get from eating food and drinks with the energy we burn through our daily activities and exercise.
HOW DO I LOSE WEIGHT?
Losing weight means you have to burn more energy than you eat. You can achieve this by cutting down the size of your meals, selecting high fat and sugar foods carefully ensuring they provide needed nutrients rather then just energy replacing juice or sweetened drinks with water, or choosing foods that have a lot of nutrition in fewer kilojoules such as vegetables and fruit.
Try one or two changes to your eating habits each week. By making small changes you are more likely to maintain a slow,safe and maintainable weight loss. Aim to lose weight gradually to ensure that fat is lost rather than muscle or water. Losing as little as one kilogram per month may not seem like much, but it will add up over time1
Forget FAD DIETS with fantastic promises they don't work in the long term. In the short term, these diets will make you lose more body water and possibly muscle, than fat. Yoyo dieting can also slow your metabolism reducing the amount of food you need to gain weight.
ACTIVITY – EVERY BIT COUNTS
Maintaining a healthy body weight will require a balanced diet AND regular physical activity. Exercising with a friend makes it more fun and you should choose exercise that you enjoy so you are more likely to do it often.
The National Physical Activity Guidelines for Australians recommend that you:
- Think of movement as an opportunity, not an inconvenience
- Be active every day in as many ways as you can
- Put together at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days
- If you can, enjoy some regular vigorous exercise for extra health and fitness
Note: If you are trying to lose weight you may require more minutes of physical activity. The good news is that you can break up your physical activity into convenient time intervals. Speak to your Doctor about what is appropriate for you.
Listen to your body
- Don't skip breakfast! Kick start your body's metabolism
- Think about why you eat. Is it always because you feel hungry? Eat your meals slowly and in a relaxed environment. Give your stomach a chance to tell you it's full
SOME SUGGESTIONS TO ASSIST WEIGHT LOSS:
Fill up on fibre
- Foods high in dietary fibre help to fill you up and help keep hunger at bay. You will be less likely to over eat
- Some high fibre choices include high fibre breads and cereals, fresh, dried and canned fruit and vegetables, legumes (like baked beans) and wholemeal pasta
Look out for hidden fats
- Trim excess fat from meat before cooking and remove skin from chicken
- Limit cakes, biscuits, pastries and pies. They can be hiding lots of extra fat you don't need
- Choose reduced or low fat dairy products like skim milk and low fat yoghurt
Be careful with nuts!
- They are usually rich in the healthy unsaturated fats and fibre, but it is too easy to eat more than a handful. Make sure to choose raw or dry roasted unsalted varieties when you do
Use the "good fats"
- Select healthy fats and oils from healthy plant sources such as sunflower and canola seeds or olives instead of animal sources like butter and ghee. Remember healthy fats have the same energy (kilo joule) content as unhealthy fats and should be eaten in moderation
Watch the amount!
- Look at your plate. Most of it should be vegetables with moderate amounts of carbohydrate and protein rich foods. A simple guide to meat and poultry servings is 150g raw weight per person, or 180g of raw fish
Avoid going back for seconds
- It can take up to half an hour for your body to realise you've satisfied your hunger. Offer to wash up instead!
A final word of advice...
- Don't forget that food is a pleasure and an important part of our social life. No foods are forbidden in a balanced diet so indulge yourself in the occasional treat, and take time to savour the moment and enjoy it.
See the Australian Government's "Swap it don't stop it" web site for many other ideas on swapping things you do now for healthier choices. http://swapit.gov.au/
This fact sheet contains general information and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional for specific advice for your personal situation.
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Heart Foundation Know Your numbers (waist, cholesterol, blood pressure) http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/sites/GoRedforWomen/Reducing_My_Risk/Pages/Knowyournumbers.aspx (Last Modified : 12/05/2010)
Australian Government Department of Health and Aging: Healthy Weight Website http://www.healthyactive.gov.au/internet/healthyactive/Publishing.nsf/Content/healthyweight (last updated: 19 July, 2006)
Australian Government Department of Health and Aging: Guide to Physical Activity http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines (last modified: 01 October, 2010)
Baker IDI Weight and Your Health http://www.bakeridi.edu.au/health_fact_sheets/weight_your_health/ (accessed March 2011)
Australian Government's "Swap it don't stop it" web site http://swapit.gov.au/