If you’re currently at a healthy weight, you’re already one step ahead of the game. To stay at a healthy weight, it’s worth doing a little planning now.
Or maybe you are overweight but aren’t ready to lose weight yet. If this is the case, preventing further weight gain is a worthy goal.
As people age, their body composition gradually shifts — the proportion of muscle decreases and the proportion of fat increases. This shift slows their metabolism, making it easier to gain weight. In addition, some people become less physically active as they get older, increasing the risk of weight gain.
The good news is that weight gain can be prevented by choosing a lifestyle that includes good eating habits and daily physical activity. By avoiding weight gain, you avoid higher risks of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, and some forms of cancer.
You may also find it helpful to weigh yourself on a regular basis. If you see a few pounds creeping on, take the time to examine your lifestyle. With these strategies, you make it more likely that you’ll catch small weight gains more quickly.
- Has my activity level changed?
- Am I eating more than usual? You may find it helpful to keep a food diary for a few days to make you more aware of your eating choices.
If you ask yourself these questions and find that you’ve decreased your activity level or made some poor food choices, make a commitment to yourself to get back on track. Set some reasonable goals to help you get more physical activity and make better food choices.
A healthy lifestyle involves many choices. Among them, choosing a balanced diet or healthy eating plan. So how do you choose a healthy eating plan? Let’s begin by defining what a healthy eating plan is.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, a healthy eating plan:
- Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
- Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
- Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars
- Stays within your daily calorie needs
Eat Healthfully and Enjoy It!
A healthy eating plan that helps you manage your weight includes a variety of foods you may not have considered. If “healthy eating” makes you think about the foods you can’t have, try refocusing on all the new foods you can eat—
- Fresh, Frozen, or Canned Fruits ― don’t think just apples or bananas. All fresh, frozen, or canned fruits are great choices. Be sure to try some “exotic” fruits, too. How about a mango? Or a juicy pineapple or kiwi fruit! When your favorite fresh fruits aren’t in season, try a frozen, canned, or dried variety of a fresh fruit you enjoy. One caution about canned fruits is that they may contain added sugars or syrups. Be sure and choose canned varieties of fruit packed in water or in their own juice.
- Fresh, Frozen, or Canned Vegetables ― try something new. You may find that you love grilled vegetables or steamed vegetables with an herb you haven’t tried like rosemary. You can sauté (panfry) vegetables in a non-stick pan with a small amount of cooking spray. Or try frozen or canned vegetables for a quick side dish — just microwave and serve. When trying canned vegetables, look for vegetables without added salt, butter, or cream sauces. Commit to going to the produce department and trying a new vegetable each week.
- Calcium-rich foods ― you may automatically think of a glass of low-fat or fat-free milk when someone says “eat more dairy products.” But what about low-fat and fat-free yogurts without added sugars? These come in a wide variety of flavors and can be a great dessert substitute for those with a sweet tooth.
- A new twist on an old favorite ― if your favorite recipe calls for frying fish or breaded chicken, try healthier variations using baking or grilling. Maybe even try a recipe that uses dry beans in place of higher-fat meats. Ask around or search the internet and magazines for recipes with fewer calories ― you might be surprised to find you have a new favorite dish!