Your weight is important in staying healthy. If your weight is in the “healthy” range, keep it there. If you are overweight, avoid gaining weight and lose some if you can. Daily exercise is important in losing weight, so it is no surprise that daily exercise and weight control are at the base of the Healthy Eating Pyramid shown below.
WHAT IS A HEALTHY WEIGHT?
Since taller people tend to weigh more than shorter people, the body mass index (BMI) was developed as a measure of weight adjusted for height. There are a number of online BMI calculators. You can click here to see a BMI chart. Scientific studies have shown that BMIs above 25 increase the risk of dying early, mainly from heart disease and cancer. There is widespread agreement that BMIs between 25 and 30 should be considered overweight, and over 30 obese. A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 25.
KEEP YOUR BMI LOW
If your BMI is below 25, you want to keep it there. Try to avoid gaining weight even if you could add some pounds and still stay within the healthy BMI range. If your BMI is above 25, you want to prevent it from getting any larger, and if possible, you want to lower it.
THE HEALTHY EATING PYRAMID AIDS WEIGHT LOSS
Some studies support the idea that healthy eating, in moderation, should be good for not only long term health, but also for losing and maintaining weight. One such scientific research study was conducted by Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital on 101 overweight volunteers. The study has proven that people following a moderate-fat diet based on the Healthy Eating Pyramid lost more weight (and kept it off) than people following a low-fat diet. After six months, both groups had similar weight loss. However at 18 months, people on the low-fat diet had regained most of their weight. On the contrary, those following the moderate-fat diet based on the Healthy Eating Pyramid kept off the pounds they lost. They reported being satisfied with the variety and flavors of their new way of eating and did not feel deprived.
THREE STEPS TO WEIGHT CONTROL
Weight control can be a challenge especially since it is so easy to gain weight. We are also bombarded by food commercials and eating occasions which tempt us to indulge. This three-pronged strategy may help in losing weight and keeping it off:
- Get physically active: If you are already, try to increase the level of your activity. Daily physical activity has many health benefits. It helps you lose weight, prevents many diseases like cancer and heart disease, lowers anxiety, improves your mood, and aids in living a long life. It also burns calories and maintains muscle. Walking is an effective activity (aim for 30 minutes or more daily).
- Find an eating program that works for you: The Healthy Eating Pyramid is a good start. It can help you choose the right foods to improve your health. Diets low in refined grains are best. Replace them with whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Limit saturated fats and avoid trans fats in favor of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to improve your cholesterol levels and allow your arteries to work more effectively. Replace red and processed meat with beans, nuts, poultry, and fish to reduce risk of cancers, diabetes, and heart disease. A Mediterranean-style diet is one good option. It is flexible as you can include cuisines from around the world as well as your own creations. This style of diet has tremendous variety and pleasure to last a lifetime. Most of all, the diet you choose has to work for you, just make sure that it includes healthy fats and protein and physical activity.
- Avoid overeating: To keep your caloric intake at a reasonable level, it is important to not overeat. Some suggestions: 1) Practice stopping before you are full. 2) Be selective about what you eat. 3) Beware of desserts. 4) Eat slowly and pay attention to your food when you eat. 5) Drink a glass of water before each meal. 6) Keep track of the calories in your food.
Remember that weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint. You want to lose weight and keep it off. Following the Healthy Eating Pyramid will help, and you will also lower your risk of many diseases like cancers, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.