10 healthy weight habits

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To take control of your weight, eating healthily and being active go hand-in-hand. To lose weight permanently, you will need to change the way you think about food and physical activity for good. Watching what and how much you eat and being more active are keys to maintaining a healthy weight throughout your lifetime. This will also significantly reduce your chance of getting cancer.

Our sections on eating for health and physical activity are bursting with information and tips to help you to lose weight and keep it off for good. We have also developed a list of 10 healthy weight habits to fit in with your daily life and to instantly change things for the better. And remember, the key to losing weight is knowing you can do it, but realising it is not going to happen overnight.

10 healthy weight habits 

  1. Start your day with breakfast: It is the most important meal of the day. After a long night's rest, your body needs the fuel to get your metabolism going and give you energy for the rest of the day.
  2. Downsize: It seems like everything these days is ‘supersized’. Keeping a healthy weight can be as simple as watching your portion sizes. Try writing down what and how much you eat and drink for a week, using our daily healthy living diary. Then see where you can cut down on portion sizes, especially of foods high in calories, fat and added sugars.
  3. Eat your way to good health: Following our five fundamentals of healthy eating will set you on the right path to keeping a healthy weight and reducing your risk of cancer.
  4. Think about your drinks: Many soft drinks and juices contain a lot of sugar and they can make you put on weight. Coffee with lots of milk or sugar can be loaded with fat and calories. Try buying smaller sizes, and asking for a coffee made with skimmed milk. Alcoholic drinks are also very high in calories. So if you want to lose weight, you may need to consider reducing the amount you drink. Drinking alcohol also increases your risk of many cancers. And remember to drink lots of water – at least eight glasses a day.
  5. Never shop when you are hungry: It is a recipe for disaster to go grocery shopping when you are hungry. Make a list so that impulse buying is kept to a minimum. Eating right starts with stocking your kitchen with healthy food.
  6. Look at the label: Be careful when reading claims on food packaging as they can be misleading. ‘Light’ or ‘reduced fat’ food may have less fat than a similar product but they can still be high in fat or sugar. For more information, see Safefood’s information on understanding food labels.
  7. Focus on your food: Slow down. Enjoy the taste of your food and eat at a table if possible.
  8. Eat regular meals: Plan your meals and try to eat at roughly the same times each day. Planning your meals will help prevent bingeing and snacking on foods that are high in calories. If you do snack, choose a healthy option such as fresh fruit or low-fat yogurts instead of crisps or doughnuts.
  9. Walk off the weight: Walk whenever and wherever you can, and put some pep in your step! You can break up your walking over the day. For more information, go to our physical activity and exercise section.
  10. Be patient: Habits take time to develop. It doesn't happen overnight. Don’t be too hard on yourself or think that one mistake ruins a whole day's worth of healthy habits. You can do it. Just take it one day at a time.

Revised 2013, next revision 2015