Weight gain is on the rise with the change in food choices and the lifestyle habits of people. There are several consequences of weight gain and subsequent obesity some of which include increase risk of high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, heart diseases, stroke and even some cancers; and interestingly, WHO statistics indicate that obesity and overweight is killing more people than hunger. A major contributor to weight gain and obesity is diet; the food you eat. The diet you choose has significant impact on your health and it is important to know which foods to choose to help control your weight and prevent you from getting all those diseases associated with weight gain and obesity.
The 4 ways
Your food choices and eating behavior are very critical in determining your body weight and overall well-being. Like I mentioned in our eBook, staying fit is 80% what you eat and 20% exercise. The following tips will help you manage your weight effectively.
1. Have a plan
Just like having a plan for your money helps you to gain control of your expenses, planning your meals puts you in control of what you eat. Having a plan for the foods you eat helps you to avoid overeating and unplanned snacks and meals which could increase your chances of gaining weight. This could also help you to eat healthy on a budget. Having a plan involves writing out the meals you will eat in a day or better, in a week with their time of eating them. Ideally, have a specific time for eating breakfast, lunch, supper and healthy snacks in between main meals. This would help prevent overeating helping you to manage your weight. Snacking is not bad. The kind of snack you choose to eat makes the difference. Snacks are small portions of food eaten in between main meals. Foods like unsweetened yogurt with chops of fruit in it, raw vegetables, fruits all make healthy snacks.
2. Eat and eat balanced meals
For most people who are trying to avoid weight gain, skipping meals seems like the logical thing to do. But it doesn’t work that way. By skipping meals, you’re gradually programming the body to quickly store up any little food that comes into it as fat and this done over time would pose a health risk. It is very important that you eat. Managing your weight is about eating the right foods not skipping meals. Your meals should have carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. You should have fruits and vegetables as part of your meals which will provide vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. You should not look at fruits as ‘sweet-after-meals’ but rather see it as part of the meal so that you include it in your diets. Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain good amounts of dietary fibre which helps you to fill up quickly and makes you feel satisfied for longer. This helps you to control your calorie intake. Your diet should be balanced, containing adequate amounts of carbohydrates-rich foods (such as banku, rice, yam, cocoyam, cassava, plantain, sorghum, millet, etc.), protein-rich foods (such as eggs, fish, chicken, lean meat, beans, milk and milk products, etc.), some fat and oil as well as the fruits and vegetables. Having the balance would help prevent excess calorie intake which could cause weight gain.
3. Good cooking choices
Your choice of cooking method also has the potential of affecting your weight. For instance, deep frying foods increases the quantity of oil in the food, hence, more calories. Instead, you could bake it or just boil it which would help cut excess calories from the oil. As much as possible, control your use of oil to help limit the caloric content of the food.
4. Portion control
Even when you are eating healthy food, you still need to control your serving sizes. You can control your portion sizes by eating from a smaller plate or bowl. And do well to read the labels on food packages to also help you to choose the right serving size so that you don’t eat more calories than you should at time.
Tracking your progress
Monitoring the progress you make is vital, let’s take a quick look at how to know whether you’re making progress or approaching obesity. There are a number of ways to assess that. The most popular way to check is by the body mass index, BMI, which uses your weight in kilograms and your height in meters to check if you are obese or not.
BMI = (Weight (kg))/(Height (m) × Height (m))
Using the equation above, if your BMI is below 18.5, you are underweight. If it is between 18.5 and 24.9 your weight is normal, you’re okay. If your BMI is between 25 and 29.9, you’re on the verge of obesity, you’re overweight. If your BMI is above 30 you have hit obesity.
Another method is by checking your waist circumference. For women, if your waist circumference is more than 88 centimeters or 35 inches, you are obese whereas for men, if your waist circumference is more than 102 centimeters or 40 inches you are obese. This waist circumference method, however, does not work for people who are less than 5 feet tall.
Have a plan, eat balanced meals, check your cooking choices and control your portion sizes. These are effective ways of managing your weight in your kitchen. Remember, eating one healthy meal doesn’t make you healthy. The state of good health is the result of right choices consistently made over time no matter how small they may be. Share your comments in the comments section below. Share this article with someone you know will need it.