Happy New Year!
The new year is an exciting time; and for you, it may include plans for positive lifestyle changes. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight may be top of mind when making resolutions. Often the excitement and motivation of the new year fades after a few months, but setting small, realistic and measureable goals will help keep the fire burning. Avoid the temptation to try short-term diet trends that promise immediate results by eliminating whole food groups or requiring you to purchase specific products to cleanse and detoxify your body.
A healthy body weight can decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. But remember, successful weight loss takes time. A weight loss of 0.5 to 1 kilograms (1 to 2 pounds) per week is a reasonable goal.
Here are some steps you can take for a healthier weight:
1. Keep track of what you eat with a food journal for a typical day, include:
- How much and what type of food and drinks you consumed: this gives you an idea of the types of food and beverages and portion sizes you had.
- Timing of meals, beverages and snacks: note how your meals and snacks are spread throughout the day.
- How you are feeling or what you are doing during that time: this can help you determine whether you are eating because of hunger, cravings or triggers like stress, anger or boredom.
2. Make small changes you can stick to:
- Slow down and enjoy meals and snacks throughout the day. Avoid distractions when eating (like watching TV or surfing the net) and make time to savour meals. This can prevent you from overeating. Have meals no more than six hours a part or have a snack in-between. Examples of healthy snacks are unsalted nuts and a piece of fruit, or cut veggies with hummus. Avoid skipping meals, since you are likely to eat more when you do eat. Read more about balanced meals and portion sizes.
- Take time to reflect. If you noticed that you eat more for comfort or to reward yourself, think of other activities you enjoy doing that do not involve food. For example, going for a walk or catching up with friends are healthy options that do not involve food.
- Choose higher fibre foods like whole grain breads and cereals, nuts and seeds, whole wheat pasta or beans and lentils. These foods help you stay feeling full longer, so you’re less likely to eat more.
- Use healthier cooking methods. Bake, broil, barbeque or steam foods. Avoid frying foods.
- Reach for healthy beverages. Choose water and low fat plain milk most often. Keep sugary drinks to a minimum as they add calories you don’t need.
- Fill half your plate with fruit and veggies. Small steps make a big difference to your health. Add an extra fruit or veggie to meals and snacks.
- Plan for the week. Make a weekly menu plan and shopping list. Being prepared helps you stay on track and prevents you from reaching for less healthy foods. Read this for more information on meal planning and check out Cookspiration and Half Your Plate for healthy recipes.
3. Enjoy an active lifestyle
If you would like personalized healthy eating or fitness information to help you achieve a healthy weight, call 8-1-1 and ask to speak with a HealthLink BC registered dietitian or qualified exercise specialist. This service is free for British Columbians and is available from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday.