8 ways to stay slim for life
Follow our sustainable healthy eating guide:
1. Focus on incentives
Why do you want to lose weight? Perhaps you’ll be better able to manage a medical condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes, or you’ll have more energy to play with your grandchildren. Write down your motives and look at them regularly.
2. Pre-empt obstacles
Think how you’ll deal with challenging situations before they arise, such as eating out with friends who are all ordering a double cheeseburger with chips, being short of time to prepare meals or going on holiday.
For instance, if eating out, you could check out menus in advance to find the healthiest option and rehearse how you’ll respond if someone tries to make you deviate from your plans.
3. Keep a food diary
If you cut your calorie intake by just 100 a day, you could lose a pound a month
Do this for a week initially, making sure you include all your snacks as well as regular meals – it’s easy to conveniently ‘forget’ those bits you nibbled while cooking.
Once you get a true view of what your diet is like, you can see where you need to make changes. Start with the ones you’ll find easiest, whether that’s swapping your breakfast bacon sandwich for porridge and wholemeal toast, or switching from whole to semi-skimmed milk.
4. Start small
If you cut your calorie intake by just 100 a day, you could lose a pound a month – that’s nearly a stone over a year! Make just one or two changes to your diet to begin with and build up as the year goes on.
For instance, leaving spread off a sandwich will save 57 calories (Kcal), swapping a pint of semi-skimmed milk for skimmed will save 79Kcal and switching from a can of standard fizzy drink to a sugar-free variety will save 135Kcal.
5. Get the balance right
The Government’s Eatwell guide shows the correct proportion of foods we should be eating from the five main food groups.
Roughly a third of our diet should come from fruit and veg; another third from starchy foods such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta; about 15 per cent from low-fat milk and dairy foods; about 12 per cent from meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein; and just eight per cent from foods that are high in fat and sugar.
There’s no need to ban any food altogether – just eat those high in fat or sugar sparingly.
6. Think positive
Rather than concentrating on doing without, focus on ways to eat more healthy foods. For instance, swap a lunchtime toasted cheese sandwich for a vegetable soup like our roasted onion and fennel one (pictured above) with a roll, and try adding two extra vegetables to your mince or stew dishes.
Filling up on healthy foods leaves less room for unhealthy ones and combining them with favourite dishes will mean you don’t feel like you’re missing out.
For some great meal ideas, see our recipe finder (sign up to Heart Matters to view the recipes) or buy our Everyday British cookbook from our online shop, priced £9.99.
7. Watch your portions
You may be eating the right balance of foods, but just too much of them. For more guidance on portions, check out our free booklet, Facts not Fads. You can also use measuring cups, and a spaghetti measurer.
8. And finally…
It’s not just what you eat. The more physical activity you do, the more calories you’ll burn, so be as active as you can. Use our quick calculator to see how many calories you can burn off with different types of exercise.