Tips for Weight Loss and Maintenance
Are you determined to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight this year? Here are some tips to help you achieve that goal. Remember, to maintain weight, you must balance calories with the energy you burn through physical activity. There is a simple equation for weight loss and maintenance -- if you eat more than you expend, you gain weight. If you eat less (reduce calories) than you expend, you lose weight!
Make a commitment to eat well, move more, and get support from family and friends. Even better, start eating healthier and being active together!
Set realistic goals. Take small steps for big rewards. Instead of trying to make many changes at once, set smaller, more realistic goals for yourself and add a new challenge each week.
Conduct an inventory of your meal/snack. Keep a food and activity journal or use the online Interactive Health Eating Index. Write down not only what you ate, but where, when, and what you were feeling at the time. You will see what triggers your hunger and what satisfies your appetite. What foods do you routinely shop for? What snacks do you keep in the pantry?
Remember physical activity! Aim for at least 30 minutes (adults) or 60 minutes (children) of moderate-intensity physical activity five or more days of the week. If you are just starting to be physically active, remember that even small increases provide health benefits. Check with your physician first, and then start with a few minutes of activity a day and gradually increase, working your way up to 30 minutes. If you already get 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a day, you can gain even more health benefits by increasing the amount of time that you are physically active or by taking part in more vigorous-intensity activities.
To log your daily physical activity and earn rewards, take the President’s Challenge and log your activities.
Eat at least 5-9 servings of vegetables and fruits per day.
You should try to incorporate at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day. African American men are encouraged to eat 9 a day. Check out the National Fruit & Vegetable Program for great information on the promotion of health through increased consumption of fruits and vegetables
Eat foods that are high in fiber to help you feel full. Whole grain cereals, legumes (lentils and beans), vegetables, and fruits are good sources of fiber that may help you feel full with fewer calories.
Prepare and eat meals and snacks at home. This is a great way to save money, eat healthy, and spend time with your family. When preparing meals, choose low-fat/low-calorie versions of your favorite ingredients and learn how easy it is to substitute. For example:
- Switch to 1% or nonfat milk and low-fat cheeses.
- Use a cooking spray instead of oil or butter to decrease the amount of fat when you cook.
- Prepare baked potatoes with low-fat blue cheese dressing or low-fat plain yogurt instead of butter or sour cream.
Try some fun ways to maintain your cultural dishes and make some healthy modifications. Use this menu planner to help.
Be aware of extra large portion sizes to avoid those extra calories. Learn more about portion sizes and servings from “Super sizes” to extra large servings at some restaurants by taking this Portion Distortions quiz. You will also learn about the amount of physical activity required to burn off the extra calories provided by today's portions.
Choose snacks that are nutritious and filling. A piece of fresh fruit, cut raw vegetables, or a container of low-fat yogurt are excellent (and portable) choices to tide you over until mealtimes. Take these snacks with you for a healthy alternative to chips, cookies, or candy.
Take your time! Eat only when you are hungry and enjoy the taste, texture, and smell of your meal as you eat it. Remember, it takes approximately 15 minutes for your stomach to signal your brain that you are full.
If you choose to eat out, remember to: Watch your portions. Portion sizes at restaurants (including fast food) are usually more than one serving, which can result in overeating. Choose smaller portion sizes, order an appetizer and a leafy green salad with low-fat dressing, share an entree with a friend, or get a "doggy bag" and save half for another meal. Check out the Eating Healthy When Dining Out fact sheet for more information.
If you choose to eat at a fast food restaurant, choose healthier menu items like salads. A recent study funded by the HHS National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute found that young adults who eat frequently at fast-food restaurants gain more weight and have a greater increase in insulin resistance in early middle age, a risk factor for diabetes.
For the latest information on nutrition and to learn about the upcoming 2005 dietary guidelines, visit www.nutrition.gov.
Forgive yourself. If you occasionally make mistakes, don’t give up! Forgive yourself for making that choice and keep working on it. Eat an extra healthy lunch and dinner if you had a high-calorie, high-fat breakfast. Add more physical activity to your day.
Keep at it and don’t give up. Resolve to be a better, healthier you in 2005. <> Brought to you by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For more information, contact 1-800-444-6472 or visit minorityhealth.hhs.gov