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Healthy weight loss

Diet fads have given people an unrealistic expectation that they can lose weight quickly. However, when people lose weight gradually and steady (about 1 to 2 pounds per week), they are more successful at keeping it off.

To lose weight, you have to use more calories than you take in. Since 1 pound equals 3,500 calories, you need to reduce your caloric intake by 500 to 1,000 calories a day to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week.

The good news is, even modest weight loss has health benefits. If you are obese, by losing 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight, you can improve blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.

For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, a 5 percent weight loss is equal to 10 pounds.

Healthy eating

Food is your body’s fuel. You can’t live without it. The key is to give your body enough nutrients and energy without eating too much. Reading food labels can help you make healthy choices. Also, learn new eating habits to manage your weight.

Eat less fat

A gram of fat has almost twice the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrates. Try to balance your food choices so that 20 to 35 percent of your calories come from total fat. This means an average of 2½ to 3½ grams of fat for each 100 calories you eat.

Eat more fiber

High-fiber foods are digested more slowly than low-fiber foods, so you feel full longer. Try to get 31 grams of fiber each day. Foods high in fiber include:

  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Whole-grain or bran breads, pastas and cereals
  • Legumes (beans) and peas

As you begin to eat more fiber, be sure to drink plenty of water to keep your digestive system working smoothly.

  • Don’t skip meals. This often leads to overeating later on. Spread eating throughout the day.
  • Eat a variety of foods, not just a few favorites.
  • If you find yourself eating when you’re not hungry, ask yourself why. Many of us eat when we’re bored, stressed, or just to be polite. Listen to your body. If you’re not hungry, get busy doing something else instead of eating.
  • Eat slower. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it’s full.
  • Pay attention to what you eat. Don’t read or watch TV during your meal.