Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is not always easy. But small changes can lead to big results. Eating well, moving your body, and maintaining a healthy weight will help you feel your best and lower your risk of having some diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
What is a "Healthy" Weight?
People come in all shapes and sizes. The best weight for you may be different from that of your friends and family. Talk to your doctor to find the right weight for you. Ask your doctor for your body mass index (BMI). BMI is a number based on height and weight. It is used as a guide to screen for weight problems.
How Much Should I Eat?
How much you need to eat depends on who you are. Your age, height, sex and how active you are, all play a part.
Exercise is simply moving your body. For health benefits, you should do 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise every day. Kids need 60 minutes a day.
You don't need to do it all at once. You can break the exercise up into 10 minute sessions throughout the day. You may need to do more if you want to lose weight. Choose something fun, so you are more likely to do it.
The first step is to talk to your doctor. He or she can help you find the best weight for you and make a plan to reach that weight. It is best to lose weight slowly. Aim for one or two pounds a week. Helpful hints for getting started include:
- Eat a healthy breakfast
- Cut down on fast food and sweets
- Limit soda and juice
- Drink more water
- Limit TV and video games to 1 hour a day; take the TV out of the bedroom
- Do 30 minutes (or more) of exercise each day
- Eat more fruits and vegetables and less high-fat foods like chips, fries and cookies.
There are 5 food groups plus fats and oils. You need to eat foods from each group every day to get all the things your body needs.
- Grains. Foods made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, and barley are grains. Hint: Eat more "whole" grains like 100% whole-wheat bread and corn tortillas and less "white" breads and rice. Whole grains have more fiber and are better for your body.
- Vegetables. Any veggie or 100% vegetable juice falls in this group. Vegetables may be fresh, frozen or canned. They can be eaten raw or cooked. Hint: Eat more dark green veggies like spinach and orange veggies like carrots.
- Fruits. Any fruit or 100% fruit juice falls in this group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried. Hint: It is better to eat an orange than to drink orange juice. If you do drink juice, make sure it is 100% juice and not a juice "drink" or juice "blend" which may have lots of added sugar.
- Milk. This group includes all milk and some foods made from milk such as cheese, yogurt and ice cream. These foods have calcium which will help build strong bones and teeth. Hint: Choose low or non-fat products. If you don't like or can't drink milk, there are other things you can try, such as soy. Talk to your doctor to see if this is right for you.
- Meat & Beans. All foods made from meat, chicken, fish, dry beans or peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds are part of this group. Hint: Choose low-fat or lean meats like ground turkey instead of beef.
- Fats & Oils. You need to eat a little fat every day. But some fats are better for you than others. Make most of your fat sources from fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. Eat less solid fats like butter, stick margarine, shortening and lard, as well as foods made with these.