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How to: Maintain a healthy weight

November 2011

There are two things we need to clear up before we get down to the nuts and bolts. The first is what we mean by ‘maintain', and that is to keep a steady weight, one that doesn't fluctuate and change too much. The second is what we mean by ‘healthy', which is a waistline under 100cm for men and under 85cm for women.

Waistline is important; Cancer Council research shows that the size of your waist significantly increases the risk of some types of cancer, including cancers of the bowel, breast and oesophagus.

So, how can we maintaining a healthy weight?

Here are some tips:

  • Limit saturated fats and be moderate in how many fatty foods you eat. There are lots of different types of fat, some are good in moderation and some should be avoided. Want more info on what's what when it comes to fats?
  • Reduce how much sugar you have, whether it's in your coffee, in food or in drinks. Lots of people don't realise the amount of sugar in soft drinks. For example, a typical 600ml bottle contains 12–15 teaspoons of sugar – that's a lot of sugar that's easily avoided!
  • Cut through the marketing hype when it comes to prepackaged foods. Use tools, like the Traffic Light Food Tracker App to help you make healthy choices.
  • Try your best to limit alcoholic drinks as they can be high in calories. And similar to soft drinks, alcoholic drinks can be very high in sugar. Remember that there are links between alcohol and cancer, so it's good to avoid alcohol altogether if you can.
  • Choose non-fat or reduced-fat milk and dairy products. A good way to limit your saturated fat is to avoid full-fat dairy products.
  • Choose fish, poultry or vegetarian options instead of red meat for some meals. There are some studies that have found links between cancer and excessive consumption of processed and red meat. Try to include lean meat, fish, poultry and alternatives (e.g. legumes – beans, tofu) in your diet.
  • Be physically active every day. It's recommended that we get 30 minutes of vigorous, or one hour of moderate activity per day, and avoid sedentary behaviour, like sitting around on the sofa.
  • Portion control is important. Think about the amount of food you are putting on your plate. For current recommendations take a look at The Dietary Guidelines for Australian Adults.

Like most things in life, it's all about balance. A healthy a varied diet is best and this needs to be balanced with the amount of exercise or physical activity you do.

It sounds simple, but it can be hard to say ‘no' to chocolate cake. The secret is you don't have to say ‘no' all the time. You can say ‘yes' sometimes and just make sure you are eating healthily overall and that you keep fit and active.

Quick recap: if you're gaining weight look at the amount of sugar in your diet, the amount of fat in your diet (including full-fat dairy products), your portion sizes (are you eating too much?) and how much exercise you are doing.

With temptations like fatty foods, nice wine and comfy leather couches, it can be easy to let your weight creep up. Maintaining a healthy weight requires a healthy approach in all aspects of your life.

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