About Healthy Eating

Healthy eating isn't about cutting out foods - it's about eating a wide variety of foods in the right amounts to give your body what it needs. There are no single foods you must eat or menus you need to follow to eat healthily. All foods can be included in a healthy diet. You just need to make sure you get the right balance. Eating well can improve your health and affect how you feel.

Top ten tips for eating well:

  • Have regular meals
  • Eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day
  • Cut down on saturated fat
  • Eat less salt
  • Swap meat for fish
  • Keep an eye on portion sizes
  • Swap your snacks
  • Think about drinks
  • Be a savvy shopper
  • Eat smart when eating out

Healthy eating helps you to maintain a healthy weight and reduces your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It can help to reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease and some cancers. You may find you sleep better, have more energy and better concentration - and this all adds up to a healthier, happier you!

For a balanced diet you should try to eat:

Fruit, vegetables and olive oil - healthy eating

Plenty of fruit and vegetables

About a third of the food you eat should be made up of fruit and vegetables - and you should try to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg every day.

Pasta, rice , potatoes and starchy foods

Plenty of bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods

About a third of your plate should be starchy foods - this food group is your body's main source of energy and should be part of all meals.

Milk and dairy products

Milk and dairy foods

You should have two to three portions of milk and dairy foods a day to get the calcium your body needs - choose lower-fat versions when possible.

Meat, fish, eggs, beans - source of proteins

Meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein

You should eat foods that provide you with protein two or three times a day. Choose plant sources such as pulses and beans as well as meat and fish.

Beautiful dinner table for two with black wine

Just a small amount of food and drink high in fat and/or sugar

You should aim to have only small amounts of foods and drinks high in fat and/or sugar - swap these for healthier versions or keep them for special occasions only.

You don't need to get always the balance right at every meal, but try to get it right over a longer time such as a whole day or week. Try to choose foods that are lower in fat, salt and sugar when you can.

Introduction to Weight loss

Our body weight is determined by the amount of energy that we take in as food and the amount of energy we expend in the activities of our day. Energy is measured in calories. Metabolism is the sum of all chemical processes within the body that sustain life. Your basal metabolic rate is the number of calories (amount of energy) you need for your body to carry out necessary functions. If your weight remains constant, this is likely a sign that you are taking in the same amount of calories that you burn daily. If you're slowly gaining weight over time, it is likely that your caloric intakes is greater than the number of calories you burn through your daily activities.

The number of calories we burn each day is dependent upon the following:

  • Our basal metabolic rate (BMR), the number of calories we burn per hour simply by being alive and maintaining body functions
  • Our level of physical activity

Our weight also plays a role in determining how many calories we burn at rest - the more calories are required to maintain your body in its present state, the greater your body weight. A 100-pound person requires less energy (food) to maintain body weight than a person who weighs 200 pounds.

Lose weight diagram

Lifestyle and work habits partially determine how many calories we need to eat each day. Someone whose job involves heavy physical labor will naturally burn more calories in a day than someone who sits at a desk most of the day. For people who do not have jobs that require intense physical activity, exercise or increased physical activity can increase the number of calories burned.

Weight loss facts

  • A lifestyle that combines sensible eating with regular physical activity is the key to good health.
  • To be at their best, adults need to avoid gaining excess weight, many need to lose weight, and some are underweight.
  • Being overweight or obese increases a person's risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, certain types of cancer, arthritis, and breathing problems.
  • A healthy weight is a major factor for a long, healthy life.

How do you lose weight

The best approach for weight loss is reducing the number of calories you eat while increasing the number of calories you burn through physical activity. To lose 1 pound, you need an expenditure of approximately 3,500 calories. You can achieve this either by cutting back on your food consumption, by increasing physical activity, or ideally, by doing both.

For example, if you consume 500 extra calories per day for one week without changing your activity level, you will gain 1 pound in weight. Likewise, if you eat 500 fewer calories each day for a week or burn 500 calories per day through exercise for one week, you will lose 1 pound.

Examples of calorie content of some popular foods and beverages include the following:

  • One slice of original-style crust pepperoni pizza - 230 calories
  • One glass of dry white wine - 160 calories
  • One can of cola - 150 calories
  • One quarter-pound hamburger with cheese - 500 calories
  • One jumbo banana nut muffin - 580 calories

Why is weight loss important

Maintenance of a healthy body weight is important for maintaining both physical and emotional well-being and disease prevention. Excess weight, body fat, and obesity have been associated with an increased risk for numerous health conditions, including:

  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • stroke
  • diabetes
  • osteoarthritis
  • some types of cancers
  • sleep apnea
  • elevated blood cholesterol levels
Weight loss pano, hold by doctor

It should be noted that reduction in weight for those who are overweight can make a major impact on the health conditions listed above. Many overweight people also report improved mood, increased in self-esteem and motivation, and feeling healthier in general after they have lost weight.

Tips for successful weight loss

  • The desire to lose weight must come from the individual. When making changes, decide what's right for your lifestyle.
  • Don't blame yourself If you once fail at your attempt to curtail your over eating. It doesn't mean you are a failure at weight control and that you should just give up. Weight control does not involve making perfect choices all the time; rather it's about attempting to make good health choices more often than poor ones.
  • Don't go hungry. Make sure not to skip meals, and always have some healthy low fat snacks on hand. Try to eat healthy, regular meals.
  • Avoid surroundings where you know you're tempted to make poor food choices. Try to plan other activities or distractions for those times, or plan in advance how you're going to handle them and stick to it.
  • Surround yourself with people who support your efforts. Even our good friends can knowingly or unknowingly sabotage weight-loss attempts. Spend time with those people who will not pressure you to make poor food choices.
  • Decide on some non food rewards for yourself when you reach interim goals. For examples, at the end of the first week of healthy eating or after the first 5 pounds lost, buy yourself a new DVD, or book.
  • If you have a slip-up, this is no reason to give up. Giving in to temptation and over eating doesn't have to mean the end of your healthy eating plan. After the over eating episode, just resume the healthy eating plan and forgive yourself.
  • Stock your refrigerator with healthy foods. Get rid of the high-calorie, low-nutrition snacks like chips and candy. But don't forget to have plenty of healthier options available as well, such as popcorn (hold the butter, try Parmesan cheese sprinkles), low-fat cheese and yogurt, fruit, instant cocoa without added sugar, sugar-free popsicles or puddings, or whatever appeals to you when you're hungry for a snack.
  • Study the Internet or your cookbook collection and identify some low fat recipes you would like to try.
  • Set small goals and focus on these rather than the "big picture." Decide where you want to be in a week or in a month rather than focusing on the total amount of weight you'd like to lose.
  • Don't compare your weight loss to others. Everyone is different and has different metabolic rates. Aim for a healthy rate of weight loss, and don't measure yourself by what others are doing or their results.
  • Seek out restaurants where you can stay on track. Many restaurants offer nutritional information and calorie content on their menus, and it's often possible to modify your choices. Get the salad dressing on the side or hold the butter. Substitute vegetables for fried foods. Even starting the meal with a green salad can make you eat less of the high-calorie main dish while adding some vitamins and fiber to the meal.

Body Mass Index

What is the body mass index (BMI)

The BMI uses a mathematical formula that accounts for both a person's weight and height. The BMI equals a person's weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared (BMI = kg/m2). To calculate the BMI using pounds, divide the weight in pounds by the height in inches squared and multiply the result by 703. The body mass index (BMI) is a now the measurement of choice for many physicians and researchers studying obesity.

The BMI measurement, however, poses some of the same problems as the weight-for-height tables. Not everyone agrees on the cutoff points for "healthy" versus "unhealthy" BMI ranges. BMI also does not provide information on a person's percentage of body fat. However, like the weight-for-height table, BMI is a useful general guideline and is a good estimator of body fat for most adults 19 and 70 years of age. However, it may not be an accurate measurement of body fat for bodybuilders, certain athletes, and pregnant women.

Body Mass Index pano, hold by doctor

Healthy weight is defined as a body mass index (BMI) equal to or greater than 19 and less than 25 among all people 20 years of age or over. Generally, obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) equal to or greater than 30, which approximates 30 pounds of excess weight.

To use the table below, find the appropriate height in the left-hand column. Move across the row to the given weight. The number at the top of the column is the BMI for that height and weight.

Enter your height in cm and your weight in kg! After you get your result by pressing button "Result", check in list below to see your BMI

The World Health Organization uses a classification system using the BMI to define overweight and obesity:

  • A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is defined as a "pre-obese."
  • A BMI of 30 to 34.99 is defined as "obese class I."
  • A BMI of 35 to 39.99 is defined as "obese class II."
  • A BMI of or greater than 40.00 is defined as "obese class III."

How can people use their BMI to evaluate their bodies

Running shoes, apple, water and measurement tape

When it comes to adults and children, different methods are used to find out if weight is about right for height. Adults should learn their BMI. Not all adults who have a BMI in the range labeled "healthy" are at their most healthy weight.

  • Some may have lots of fat and little muscle.
  • A BMI above the healthy range is less healthy for most people; but it may be fine if someone has lots of muscle, a large body frame, and little fat.
  • The further one's BMI is above the healthy range, the higher one's weight-related risk. If a person's BMI is above the healthy range, he or she may benefit from weight loss, especially if there are other health risk factors.
  • BMIs slightly below the healthy range may still be healthy unless they result from illness.

There is no single perfect body size for children. If someone has concerns about his or her child's body size, talk with a health-care professional. Keep track of one's weight and waist measurement, and take action if either of them increases. If someone's BMI is greater than 25, at least try to avoid further weight gain. If middle-aged or elderly and the waist measurement increases, one is probably gaining fat and losing muscle. If so, take steps to eat less and become more active.

How should people evaluate their weight

  • Weigh oneself and have one's height measured. Find one's BMI category. The higher the BMI category, the greater the risk for health problems.
  • Measure around the waist while standing, just about the hip bones. If it is greater than 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men, there is probably excess abdominal fat. This excess fat may place one at greater risk of health problems, even if the BMI is about right.

The no-diet approach to weight control

Big green apple

By adopting sensible eating habits and practicing portion control, you can eat nutritious foods so that you take in as many calories as you need to maintain your health and well-being at your ideal weight.

By adopting sensible eating habits and practicing portion control, you can eat nutritious foods so that you take in as many calories as you need to maintain your health and well-being at your ideal weight.

Weight loss occurs on its own simply when you start making better food choices, such as avoiding:

  • processed foods
  • sugar-laden foods
  • white bread and pasta (substitute whole-grain varieties instead)
  • foods with a high percentage of calories from fat, such as many fast foods
  • alcohol

While nothing is absolutely forbidden, keep the portion size small and add a bit more exercise to your daily workout. By replacing some unwise food choices with healthy ones, you'll be cutting back on calories. If you add some moderate physical activity, you have the perfect weight-loss plan without the need for special or inconvenient (and often expensive) diet plans. It's also important to follow healthy eating guidelines in general, even after you have lost the weight.

While a number of diet plans may work for taking off extra weight, these plans will only be successful if long-term changes are made to one's eating habits. Therefore, rather than following a restrictive diet that will be impossible or difficult to maintain forever, it is better to revise one's eating habits so that it's possible to not only lose weight but also maintain a healthy weight. To make it easier to manage one's weight, it's important to make long-term changes in eating behavior and physical activity. Here are some tips to accomplish this:

Tips for no - diet approach to weight control:

  • Build a healthy base and make sensible choices
  • Choose a healthful assortment of food that include vegetables, fruits, grains (especially whole grains), skim milk, and fish, lean meat, poultry, or beans
  • Choose foods that are low in fat and added sugars most of the time
  • Eating mainly vegetables, fruits, and grains helps one feel full, achieve good health, and manage one's weight
  • Whatever the food, eat a sensible portion size
  • Try to be more active throughout the day
  • To maintain a healthy weight after weight loss, it helps for adults to do at least 45 minutes of moderate physical activity daily (at least 60 minutes daily for children)
  • Over time, even a small decrease in calories eaten and a small increase in physical activity can prevent weight gain or help with weight loss
  • Don't give up after making a poor dietary choice and allow this to destroy a healthy eating plan. Accept the mistake and continue to make good choices as often as possible

What is obesity

Obesity is a chronic condition defined by an excess amount of body fat. A certain amount of body fat is necessary for storing energy, heat insulation, shock absorption, and other functions. The most common causes of obesity are overeating and physical inactivity.

Obesity is best defined by using the Body Mass Index. . The body mass index (BMI) equals a person's weight in kilograms (kg) divided by their height in meters (m) squared. Since BMI describes body weight relative to height, it is strongly correlated with total body fat content in adults. An adult who has a BMI of 25-29.9 is considered overweight, and an adult who has a BMI over 30 is considered obese. A BMI of 18.5-24.9 is considered normal weight.

Obesity is not just a cosmetic consideration; it is harmful to one's health. For patients with a BMI over 40, life expectancy is reduced significantly.

Obesity also increases the risk of developing a number of chronic diseases, including the following:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes
  • High blood pressure (hypertension).
  • High cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia)
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular accident or CVA)
  • Heart attack
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Cancer
  • Gallstones
  • Gout and gouty arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis) of the knees, hips, and the lower back
  • Sleep apnea

What can be done about obesity

We need to learn more about the causes of obesity, and then we need to change the ways we treat it. When obesity is accepted as a chronic disease, it will be treated like other chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. The treatment of obesity cannot be a short-term "fix" but has to be an ongoing lifelong process. Obesity treatment must acknowledge that even modest weight loss can be beneficial.

Weight loss starts today - message on paper

It is not necessary to achieve an "ideal weight" to derive health benefits from obesity treatment. Instead, the goal of treatment should be to reach and hold to a "healthier weight." The emphasis of treatment should be to commit to the process of lifelong healthy living, including eating more wisely and increasing physical activity.

The role of physical activity and exercise in obesity

Physical activity and exercise help burn calories. The amount of calories burned depends on the type, duration, and intensity of the activity. It also depends on the weight of the person. But exercise as a treatment for obesity is most effective when combined with a diet and weight-loss program. Exercise alone without dietary changes will have a limited effect on weight . However regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle to maintain a healthy weight for the long term. Another advantage of regular exercise as part of a weight-loss program is a greater loss of body fat versus lean muscle compared to those who diet alone.

Other benefits of exercise include:

  • Improved blood sugar control and increased insulin sensitivity (decreased insulin resistance)
  • Reduced triglyceride levels and increased "good" HDL cholesterol levels
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • A reduction in abdominal fat
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Release of endorphins that make people feel good

These health benefits can occur independently (with or without) achieving weight loss. Before starting an exercise program, talk to a doctor about the type and intensity of the exercise program.

General exercise recommendations:

  • Perform 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise five to seven days a week, preferably daily. Types of exercise include stationary bicycling, walking or jogging, and swimming.
  • Exercise can be broken up into smaller 10-minute sessions.
  • Start slowly and progress gradually to avoid injury, excessive soreness, or fatigue. Over time, build up to 30-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day.
  • People are never too old to start exercising. Even frail, elderly individuals (70-90 years of age) can improve their strength and balance.

The following people should consult a doctor before vigorous exercise:

  • Men over age 40 or women over age 50
  • Individuals with heart or lung disease, asthma, arthritis, or osteoporosis
  • Individuals who experience chest pressure or pain with exertion, or who develop fatigue or shortness of breath easily
  • Individuals with conditions or lifestyle factors that increase their risk of developing coronary heart disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cigarettesmoking, high blood cholesterol, or having family members with early onset heart attacks and coronary heart disease
  • A patient who is obese

The role of diet in the treatment of obesity

The first goal of dieting is to stop further weight gain. The next goal is to establish realistic weight-loss goals. While the ideal weight corresponds to a BMI of 20-25, this is difficult to achieve for many people. Thus, success is higher when a goal is set to lose 10%-15% of baseline weight as opposed to 20%-30% or greater. It is also important to remember that any weight reduction in an obese person would result in health benefits.

One effective way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories. One pound is equal to 3,500 calories. In other words, you have to burn 3,500 more calories than you consume to lose 1 pound. Most adults need between 1,200-2,800 calories per day, depending on body size and activity level to meet the body's energy needs.

General diet guidelines for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight:

  • A safe and effective long-term weight reduction and maintenance diet has to contain balanced, nutritious foods to avoid vitamin deficiencies and other diseases of malnutrition.
  • Eat more nutritious foods that have "low energy density." Low energy dense foods contain relatively few calories per unit weight (fewer calories in a large amount of food). Examples of low energy dense foods include vegetables, fruits, lean meat, fish, grains, and beans.
  • Eat less "energy dense foods." Energy dense foods are high in fats and simple sugars. They generally have a high calorie value in a small amount of food. Examples of high-energy dense foods include red meat, egg yolks, fried foods, high fat/sugar fast foods, sweets, pastries, butter, and high-fat salad dressings. Also cut down on foods that provide calories but very little nutrition, such as alcohol, non-diet soft drinks, and many packaged high-calorie snack foods.
  • Eat more complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole-grain bread, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid simple carbohydrates such as table sugars, sweets, doughnuts, cakes, and muffins. Cut down on non-diet soft drinks, these sugary soft drinks are loaded with simple carbohydrates and calories. Simple carbohydrates cause excessive insulin release by the pancreas, and insulin promotes growth of fat tissue.
  • Educate yourself in reading food labels and estimating calories and serving sizes.
  • Consult a doctor before starting any dietary changes. You doctor or a nutritionist should prescribe the amount of daily calories in your diet.

How to choose a safe and successful weight-loss program

Currently there is still no "magic cure" for obesity. The best and safest way to lose fat and keep it off is through a commitment to a lifelong process of proper diet and regular exercise. Medications should be considered helpful adjuncts to diet and exercise for patients whose health risk from obesity clearly outweigh the potential side effects of the medications. Medications should be prescribed by doctors familiar with the patients' conditions and with the use of the medications. Medication(s) and other "herbal" preparations with unproven effectiveness and safety should be avoided.

Almost any of the commercial weight-loss programs can work but only if they motivate you sufficiently to decrease the amount of calories you eat or increase the amount of calories you burn each day (or both).

A responsible and safe weight-loss program should be able to document for you the five following features:

  • The diet should be safe. It should include all of the recommended daily allowances for vitamins, minerals, and protein. The weight-loss diet should be low in calories (energy) only, not in essential foodstuffs.
  • The weight-loss program should be directed toward a slow, steady weight loss unless your doctor feels your health condition would benefit from more rapid weight loss. Expect to lose only about a pound a week after the first week or two.
  • If you plan to lose more than 15 to 20 pounds, have any health problems, or take medication on a regular basis, you should be evaluated by your doctor before beginning your weight-loss program. A doctor can assess your general health and any medical conditions that might be affected by dieting and weight loss.
  • Your program should include plans for weight maintenance after the weight-loss phase is over. Weight maintenance is the most difficult part of controlling weight and is not consistently implemented in weight-loss programs. One of the most important factors in maintaining weight loss appears to be increasing daily physical activity. Try to be more active throughout the day and incorporate some simple calorie burners into your everyday routine.
  • A commercial weight-loss program should provide a detailed statement of fees and costs of additional items such as dietary supplements.

Maintaining your ideal body weight is a balancing act between food consumption and calories needed by the body for energy. You are what you eat. The kinds and amounts of food you eat affect your ability to maintain your ideal weight and to lose weight.

Some diet guidelines:

  • Eat a variety of foods.
  • Balance the food you eat with physical activity -- maintain or improve your weight.
  • Choose a diet with plenty of grain products, vegetables, and fruits.
  • Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
  • Choose a diet moderate in sugars.
  • Choose a diet moderate in salt and sodium.
  • If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.