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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Being overweight increases your risk of health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. It can also increase your risk for osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and other respiratory problems. Aim for a slow, steady weight loss. Even a small amount of weight loss can lower your risk of health problems.
How to lose weight safely:
A safe and healthy way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories and get regular exercise. You can lose up about 1 pound a week by decreasing the number of calories you eat by 500 calories each day. You can decrease calories by eating smaller portion sizes or by cutting out high-calorie foods. Read labels to find out how many calories are in the foods you eat. You can also burn calories with exercise such as walking, swimming, or biking. You will be more likely to keep weight off if you make these changes part of your lifestyle.
Healthy meal plan for weight management:
A healthy meal plan includes a variety of foods, contains fewer calories, and helps you stay healthy. A healthy meal plan includes the following:
- Eat whole-grain foods more often. A healthy meal plan should contain fiber. Fiber is the part of grains, fruits, and vegetables that is not broken down by your body. Whole-grain foods are healthy and provide extra fiber in your diet. Some examples of whole-grain foods are whole-wheat breads and pastas, oatmeal, brown rice, and bulgur.
- Eat a variety of vegetables every day. Include dark, leafy greens such as spinach, kale, collard greens, and mustard greens. Eat yellow and orange vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squash.
- Eat a variety of fruits every day. Choose fresh or canned fruit (canned in its own juice or light syrup) instead of juice. Fruit juice has very little or no fiber.
- Eat low-fat dairy foods. Drink fat-free (skim) milk or 1% milk. Eat fat-free yogurt and low-fat cottage cheese. Try low-fat cheeses such as mozzarella and other reduced-fat cheeses.
- Choose meat and other protein foods that are low in fat. Choose beans or other legumes such as split peas or lentils. Choose fish, skinless poultry (chicken or turkey), or lean cuts of red meat (beef or pork). Before you cook meat or poultry, cut off any visible fat.
- Use less fat and oil. Try baking foods instead of frying them. Add less fat, such as margarine, sour cream, regular salad dressing, and mayonnaise to foods. Eat fewer high-fat foods. Some examples of high-fat foods include french fries, doughnuts, ice cream, and cakes.
- Eat fewer sweets. Limit foods and drinks that are high in sugar. This includes candy, cookies, regular soda, and sweetened drinks.
Ways to decrease calories:
- Eat smaller portions.
- Use a small plate with smaller servings.
- Do not eat second helpings.
- When you eat at a restaurant, ask for a box and place half of your meal in the box before you eat.
- Share an entrée with someone else.
- Replace high-calorie snacks with healthy, low-calorie snacks.
- Choose fresh fruit, vegetables, fat-free rice cakes, or air-popped popcorn instead of potato chips, nuts, or chocolate.
- Choose water or calorie-free drinks instead of soda or sweetened drinks.
- Do not shop for groceries when you are hungry. You may be more likely to make unhealthy food choices. Take a grocery list of healthy foods and shop after you have eaten.
- Eat regular meals. Do not skip meals. Skipping meals can lead to overeating later in the day. This can make it harder for you to lose weight. Eat a healthy snack in place of a meal if you do not have time to eat a regular meal. Talk with a dietitian to help you create a meal plan and schedule that is right for you.
Exercise at least 30 minutes per day on most days of the week. Some examples of exercise include walking, biking, dancing, and swimming. You can also fit in more physical activity by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking farther away from stores. Ask your healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you.
Other things to consider as you try to lose weight:
- Be aware of situations that may give you the urge to overeat, such as eating while watching television. Find ways to avoid these situations. For example, read a book, go for a walk, or do crafts.
- Meet with a weight loss support group or friends who are also trying to lose weight. This may help you stay motivated to continue working on your weight loss goals.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.