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January 2011 Health Corner

This January, many people will make a New Year’s resolution to eat more healthily and lose weight

Some fad diets are based on eating a single food or meal, such as cabbage soup. Others make far-fetched claims, for example that eating grapefruit can help burn body fat. Often, there is little or no evidence to back up these claims. “If followed over long periods, these diets are very unbalanced and bad for your health. You may lose weight in the short term, but it’s much better to lose weight gradually and to be healthy.”

The healthy way to lose weight

  • We put on weight when the amount of calories we eat over time exceeds the amount of calories we burn off through normal everyday activities and exercise.
  • The only way to lose weight healthily and keep it off is to make permanent changes to the way you eat and exercise. These don’t have to be big changes. A few small alterations to your diet can help you achieve a healthy weight, and there are plenty of ways to make physical activity part of your everyday routine.
  • Aim to lose about 0.5-1kg (1-2lb) a week until you reach a healthy weight for your height. You should be able to lose this amount if you eat about 500 to 600 calories fewer a day than you need.
  • An average man needs about 2,500 calories a day and an average woman about 2,000 calories to stay the same weight.

Seven ways to kick-start your healthy weight loss plan

Here are seven simple things you can do to eat healthy and help you lose weight.

  • To reduce the amount of fat you eat, you could trim the fat off meat
  • Drink skimmed or semi-skimmed milk instead of full fat
  • Choose a reduced- or low-fat spread and replace cream with low-fat yoghurt.
  • Eat wholegrain foods, such as wholemeal bread, brown rice and pasta. They’re digested more slowly than the white varieties so will help you feel full for longer.
  • Don’t skip breakfast. A healthy breakfast will give you the energy you need to start the day, and there’s some evidence that people who eat breakfast regularly are less likely to be overweight.
  • If you feel like a snack, try having a drink first, such as a glass of water or cup of tea. Often we think we’re hungry when really we’re thirsty.
  • Aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Fitness tips to boost your healthy weight loss

  • Regular exercise will not only help you lose weight but could also reduce your risk of developing a serious illness.
  • Adults should do at least 30 minutes of activity five times a week for general health benefits. To lose weight and keep it off, you need to do at least 60 minutes of activity regularly.

Reference: WebMD Partners in Health