Tips for losing weight healthily

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends that we all achieve and maintain a healthy weight. More than half of all Australian adults are above their healthiest weight.

How do you know if you are carrying extra weight?

Most adults can use the following graph as a guide to the healthiest weight for their height.  Draw a line across from your height without shoes in centimetres and a line straight up from your weight in kg with light clothes but no shoes. The point where these two lines cross will land in a BMI range. Your weight will be classified as ‘underweight’ (less than your healthiest weight), ‘normal’ (healthiest weight), ‘overweight’ (above your healthiest weight and at greater risk of some health problems) or ‘obese’ (significantly above your healthiest weight and at greatest risk of health problems).

You can also use the graph to work out what is the healthiest weight for your height. The graph cannot be used for children or people under eighteen years of age because they are still growing and developing.

A graph showing Body Mass Index (BMI) height and weight. Formula = weight over heaight.

If you are carrying extra weight losing even 5kg can make you feel better and lower your risk factors for health problems.

Everyday there are new ideas, diets, programs and books telling us how to lose weight. It can be very confusing and hard to know what to try.

It’s easier than ever before to gain weight and harder to take it off. Discretionary foods are cheaper and tastier, portion sizes are larger and we are less active at work and in our spare time.

So to lose weight that stays off we need to make small changes that turn back the clock. We need to limit discretionary foods, down size our portions, and find ways to be more active in our everyday lives.

To lose weight, we need to eat and drink fewer kilojoules that we use. Choosing foods from the Australian Dietary Guidelines will help us choose foods that provide the most nutrients, without the extra kilojoules. For example eating more coloured vegetables and salad will keep us feeling fuller for fewer kilojoules. In fact making half our meals coloured vegetables or salad and having smaller portions of the other foods, we can reduce the kilojoules by up to half.

There recommended number of serves can be used to plan meals and snacks for weight loss. Following the serves from the Five Food Groups and avoiding discretionary foods will help most people lose weight while staying healthy. Younger men, people who are taller than average or more active may find they need to include the ‘additional serves’.

An image of a healthy curry meal to illustrate how to eat to lose weight healthily.Planning is the secret to successful weight loss. By thinking ahead about meals and snacks we can spread the number of serves from the five foods groups over interesting meals and snacks and avoid unplanned eating of extra serves or discretionary foods.

Making a plan for meals and snacks will also make food shopping easier and quicker and cheaper and avoid unplanned extra kilojoules, because then we can buy exactly what we need. Also, knowing a few tips for getting the most out of food labels when shopping can help avoid extra kilojoules.

Eating away from home can be a challenge when wanting to lose weight, but again, thinking ahead and knowing some useful strategies can make it work.

If we eat more ‘mindfully’, turning off the TV, slowing down and savouring food, we can enjoy food more, be more in touch with how hungry or satisfied we are and eat less.

You will find plenty of great information and tips to help you with goal setting, increasing physical activity and making other lifestyle changes to help with weight loss at The Healthy Weight Guide website.

Photography: Great Ideas in Nutrition