Eating a healthy diet is really important for you to maintain good health and to maintain a healthy weight and BMI.
Research shows that reaching and keeping to a healthy weight cuts your risk of heart disease because it helps prevent and manage conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes, that put you at greater risk of coronary heart disease. Being overweight isn’t just about the way we look. It can lead to more aches and pains, problems in sleeping and a loss of energy and confidence. Even if you don’t have any of these conditions, it’s important to keep to a healthy weight so you don’t develop them in future.
To find out if you’re a healthy weight for your height, work out your body mass index (BMI). To calculate your BMI and for more information about being a healthy weight visit the NHS website.
Do I need to lose weight?
There are two main ways to tell whether you need to lose weight: your Body Mass Index (BMI) and your waist measurement.
If your BMI is between:
- 25 and 29, you would be considered overweight
- 30 and 40, you would be considered obese
- over 40, you would be considered very obese (known as “morbidly
Your shape, as much as your weight, can affect your health risk. Fat around your middle can increase your risk of getting heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. That’s because these fat cells produce toxic substances that cause damage to your body. You can work out if you’re at increased risk by simply measuring your waist. Find the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hips, and measure around your middle at a point mid-way between these. For many people this will be at the level of the tummy button.
|Increased risk||Severe risk|
|Men (white European)||over 94cm (37″)||over 102cm (40″)|
|Men (African-Caribbean, South Asian and some other minority ethnic groups)||over 90cm (35.5″)|
|Women (white European)||over 80cm (32″)||over 88cm (35″)|
|Women (African-Caribbean, South Asian and some other minority ethnic groups)||over 80cm (32″)|
If you are overweight, losing weight will not just benefit your physical health, your emotional and mental well-being will also be improved as you will find exercise much easier and this in turn will improve your mental health.
Making a change
We all want to feel healthy and trim, but no-one wants to deprive themselves of all of the things they enjoy related to drinking and eating. To drastically cut out too many of the things we enjoy often results in failure and the loss of any benefits gained. To succeed one of the best ways to be healthy is to make some swaps and build them in to your life for the long term. The more you do, the better you’ll feel – and you won’t have to say “no” to everything.
Our bodies are designed to store fat so eating lots of fatty and sugary foods is a very quick way of adding this to our fat stores. This does not mean that you should stop eating these snacks, try to change what you eat and eat the fatty and sugary foods in moderation.
- Try not to eat snacks from a big packet (such as a jumbo bag of crisps) usually
you will eat more than you think. Try putting snacks in a bowl.
- Fill up on healthy foods like fresh fruit and vegetables instead of foods that are
high in sugar or fats.
- White bread has very little fibre, try changing your white bread for wholegrain.
- Swap your full-fat milk for semi-skimmed milk.
- Cut down on alcohol intake
- Swap fizzy pop for water with a dash of fruit juice or squash that is low in sugars.
- Use a smaller plate when eating; you will eat a smaller portion.
- If you’re craving chocolate or biscuits, have a handful of dried fruit instead.
- Take up a new sport or active hobby like walking the dog.
Being underweight is equally as damaging to your health as being overweight. If your BMI is under 18.5, you should consult your GP, being underweight can be an indication of some health problems, so it’s very important that you see your Doctor.
Many of us struggle with the idea of doing exercise. It might be that we are too busy, feeling tired and achy, or simply can’t face the thought of it. Physical exercise doesn’t have to be about running around a track or working out in a gym. It can just be about being more active each day, perhaps just walking more, or taking the stairs rather than the lift. If medical problems stop you from doing one thing, there may be others that you can do.
The good news is that building activity into your day actually gives you more energy
and strengthens joints.