If you are worried about your weight and wondering what to do about it, you’re not alone. More than one in four people in the UK are now obese. Back in 1993, only 13 per cent of women and 16 per cent of men were classed as obese, but by 2011 this had risen to 24 per cent for men and 26 per cent for women.
Being overweight can damage your health in a number of different ways. For example, overweight men have a 57 per cent increased risk of prostate cancer, and being overweight doubles your chances of high blood pressure. Seventy per cent of heart disease patients are overweight, as are 80 per cent of those with type 2 diabetes.
However, this doesn’t have to be you! You can drastically change your future health if you can manage to lose a few pounds. Dropping just 10lbs can slash your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 30 per cent and arthritis by 50 per cent.
The best way to assess whether you are overweight is to calculate your Body Mass Index using your height and weight measurements. This will give you a figure which will tell you if you are underweight, normal weight, overweight, obese or morbidly obese.
If you’ve decided you need to lose some weight, and want to stand the best chance of keeping it off, avoid fad diets and aim for a series of gradual healthy lifestyle changes which will result in slower but more sustainable weight loss of around 1-2lbs a week.
Here are some easy step-by-step healthy eating changes you could make over a couple of weeks or months.
- Eat a healthy breakfast: Swap a high sugar cereal for oats/porridge and fresh fruit, a fried egg for a poached one and a latte for a regular coffee.
- Add greens to your evening meal: Eat fewer carbohydrates like pasta, bread and rice and fill your plate with green vegetables instead. They add fibre to your diet and help you feel full, but contain very low calories and no fat.
- Snack on fruit and nuts: Stay away from chocolate and crisps and bring healthy fruit and nuts to work to snack on instead.
- Consume more water: Ditch the sugary drinks and fill up on water, aiming for 6-8 glasses a day . Many people mistake thirst for hunger so it may reduce your appetite.
- Drink less alcohol: It contains hidden calories that have no nutritional benefit.
- Eat less red meat: Instead opt for lean chicken, turkey or fish to reduce the amount of fat you are having.
- Plan your meals: Only buy the ingredients on your list.
- Read labels carefully: Find lower salt, lower fat and lower sugar alternatives. See the eat well page to see what numbers you should look out for.
Other ways to lose weight include doing more exercise, even 20 minutes a day of brisk walking or jogging can make a big difference by raising your metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns calories), see the move well page for more information.
It’s also important to get enough sleep as not getting enough can make you more likely to snack on sugary/high-fat foods, and produce more of certain hormones which mean it’s more likely you’ll store fat, particularly around your stomach and organs. See the sleep well page if getting enough sleep is a problem for you.