How to maintain a healthy body weight over the long run

Weight Loss. Woman holding a scale.

We’ve all tried to lose a few pounds here and there, whether it’s after the holidays or as part of a New Year’s resolution. This is especially true for older adults who can sometimes have a harder time keeping their weight under control. To maintain a healthy body weight for life, you need to do more than cut out sugar and fast food for a few weeks – you’ll need to develop healthy lifelong habits like managing your diet, getting enough exercise and drinking enough water. Here are the best ways to maintain your weight for life so you can stay healthy, happy, and fit.

Focus on Variety

They say variety is the spice of life. It’s also a key to long-term weight management. When you eat the same foods day in and day out, it’s easy to end up lacking in nutrients and vitamins. When you mix it up, you’ll get not only a variety of flavors and recipe options, but also a variety of vitamins and minerals. Be sure to get a good blend of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and legumes. When choosing vegetables, eat the rainbow (eat vegetables of all colors) since each color indicates a different kind of vitamin.

Know the Food Groups

The five food groups (vegetables and legumes, fruits, grains, protein, and dairy) form the foundation of every healthy meal. Focus on these healthy foods when building your meals and snacks. Extras, like refined sugars, coffee, alcohol, processed foods, and saturated fats have no place on the pyramid and should, therefore, be consumed sparingly. The food pyramid has changed a lot since it’s introduction to the U.S. in 1992. If you aren’t familiar with the new guidelines, you can brush up on your knowledge here.

Pay Attention to Serving and Portion Sizes

In recent years, serving and portion sizes in America have ballooned. Since we have progressively gotten used to these sizes, we often don’t realize when we’re eating two, three, or even four servings of a product. To avoid this, pay close attention to the servings sizes on the ingredients labels. When you go grocery shopping, check the portion sizes before you buy, and then write them on the front of the box. In restaurants, opt for an appetizer instead of a main course, or order and entree and take half home. You can also serve your meals on a smaller plate, which can trick your brain into thinking you’re eating a larger portion.

Don’t Keep Unhealthy Foods in the House

One of the best ways to avoid eating (and binging) foods you shouldn’t is to keep them out of the house entirely. That means when you hit the grocery store, don’t add candy to the list. Only eat these unhealthy foods when you go out for special occasions. If you do end up having a major craving at home, you can always go out and buy the thing you want. At least you’ll have to think about it before eating it thoughtlessly.

Learn to Make Your Own Meals

When you cook for yourself, you get to see everything that goes into the healthy meals you prepare. In contrast, when you rely on ready-made meals from restaurants and the grocery store, you can easily end up eating unwanted calories and unhealthy ingredients. Over time, this can lead to weight gain and unhealthy habits. The more you prepare your own meals, the more incredible and delicious foods you’ll discover. Soon, you won’t even miss the processed foods you used to eat.

Choose Healthy Snacks

A healthy diet includes not only healthy meals, but healthy snacks. The best snacks are those that provide energy in the form of lean protein, fruits, and vegetables. Some good options for easy-to-make healthy snacks are apple slices with almond butter, cucumber with hummus, cantaloupe with cottage cheese, string cheese, edamame, and the old reliable celery with peanut butter. The most important things to remember when snacking are to keep the calorie count below 200 calories and to focus on nutrient-dense options. As tempting as it may be to reach for a scoop of ice cream or energy drink, your body will regret it later when it has to deal with both an energy slump and weight gain.

Healthy Dinner Recipe Ideas to Get You Started

You can apply the rules and lessons learned above to your daily routine to start cooking healthy meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between. Use these links to find healthy recipes for every dietary preference.

Healthy Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes
Healthy Breakfast Ideas
Healthy Weeknight Meals
Healthy Meals on a Budget

For more tips on maintaining a healthy body weight for life, contact Peninsula Doctor. Our team can work with you to develop a nutrition plan that’s compatible with your lifestyle and schedule.

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