Several factors can influence the shape and size of our bodies, including our genetic makeup, age, medication use, sleep habits, prior weight fluctuations, and even stress. Some of these factors are out of our control (e.g., age and genetics), which is why weight management does not always boil down to eating less and exercising more!
Moreover, weight is not the only indicator of overall health; individuals who are overweight can be in good health and vice versa. The goal is to work towards developing (or maintaining) healthy eating habits, an active lifestyle, and a positive self and body image.
Weight management includes weight gain for those who are underweight, weight loss for those who are obese or overweight, and maintaining a healthy weight. Whatever your goal may be, the following tips may help improve your overall health:
- Learn to listen for and respond to hunger and fullness cues
- Opt for high-fiber foods (e.g., fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts)
- Choose healthy snacks
- Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Choose plant-based protein foods more often
- Opt for lean meats
- Choose water over other types of drinks
- Incorporate physical activity into your daily life
Making sustainable lifestyle changes is key to long-term weight maintenance. In fact, you will make the most of your efforts if you keep eating well and exercising, even after reaching your goal weight.
If your goal is to lose weight, there are countless tools aimed at supporting you in your journey. However, navigating the vast array of weight loss programs on the market can be confusing, especially since they are not regulated in Canada.
It goes without saying that it is still worth finding a program that is suited to your needs, given the tremendous benefits associated with reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. Before starting a weight loss program, speak to a health care professional and ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the program focus on gradual weight loss? Gradual and healthy weight loss is no more than 2 pounds (1 kg) per week.
- Is the plan flexible enough to allow you to eat the foods you enjoy or foods that are part of your culture?
- Does it allow you to dine out at restaurants or at someone's house?
- Is there a fitness component (e.g., workout plan) or does it encourage physical activity?
- With this program, will you be able to keep the weight off and stay at your goal weight in the long term?
In choosing a weight loss program, it is important to set realistic goals that will contribute to improving your quality of life. Regardless of the program you select, the following tips may help you reduce your daily calorie intake:
- Control your portion sizes
- Eat at a slower pace
- Use smaller plates
- Avoid foods that are high in sugar or fat
To learn more on how to improve your lifestyle habits, you can start by taking a look at Canada's food guide. If you need guidance on how to approach your weight loss journey, consult a fitness trainer or nutrition specialist. They will be able to create a customized weight loss plan based on your needs, interests and personal tastes. Consult a healthcare professional before trying any weight loss product.
You may find that you are not losing weight despite all your hard work and efforts to eat healthy and exercise. Do not see this as a failure, as it is quite the opposite! The long-term benefits of integrating healthy lifestyle habits into your daily life are invaluable, and will improve both your physical and mental health, even if weight loss is minimal or nonexistent. To continue to enjoy the benefits, take care of your health!
For more information:
- www.UnlockFood.ca brought to you by Dietitians of Canada