Achieving your ideal weight

Carrying cwen weight affects the physical and psycholopical well-being of many members of society. The incidence of weight-related diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes and heart discase, in on the increase, and adult who grow heavier each year are more likely to enter their Twilight years hindered by arthritis and low likely to feel full of joie de vivre. In addition, more and more children are entering adulthood carrying excon body fat that will plague them for the rest of their years. Overweight children are suffering the pain of prematurely worn joints and are even showing the first signs of atherosclerosis (hurring of the arteries)

There are a number of reason why a fat adult or child may store too much fat. • Hereditary factors Obesity does tend to run in families possibly this is due to lifestyle and cating habits, which we can do a lot about. There is also a genetic element involved, as some children and adults will never be slight and slim, however much they try. It is essential to remember this and to be realistic

. • Comfort eating Food can a source of comfort, and therefore unhappy people may cat more than happy ones. If you notice that your child is putting on a lot of weight, try to find out if there is any reason why he or she is unhappy. We all have been known to use food as a bribe or a reward, but to use food asa replacement for love and attention is not healthy, especially as sugary and fatty foods are the ones normally offered in these situation. Instilling children with these inappropriate associations with eating can lead to problems in later life. • Lat of evervise Remember that obesity often results from a simple imbalance of calorie intake versus expenditure.

• Har Conditions such as Prada Willi syndrome, where a child never feels full, are very rare and therefore I shall not refer to their specific treatments. You should seek the advice of a professional dietitian or doctor.

The slimming industry

A massive industry has grown up around our concern about our weight. January find many people buying yet another diet book or starting another season in the gym, hoping and praying that this time the weight will come and stay off, easily. What they all need to realize is that radical diets don’t work To change one lifestyle drastically, filling the cupboard with

low-fat diet products, spending hours in the supermarket studying the calorie an far level on the side of packets, depriving oneself of favourite foods, is pet cd a miserable preoccupation, but it is also only a short-term solution. You may initially get good results, the pounds will in many cases fall off, but in six or twelve months time you will be back to square one, or even fatter than you were before

Learning to lose excess weight, and most importantly maintaining your new Issy, is not about restriction in a negative way. It is more about understanding which foods your body needs, how best to deliver the essential nutrients and how to avoid the excesses. This sounds much more of an effort to begin with to drink a milk shake or take diet pills only takes a few seconds in comparison, but the initial time imestment will lead to lasting results.

However tompiting it in to take a little table to help you lose weight don’t There are several types of weight-loss drugs: some are based on amphetamines (which interfere with your body metabolism or thyroxine (a synthetic or animal-derived hormone) and some fill your stomach up with fibre-like substances. They all have side effects, ranging from extreme mood swings, depression, hyperactivity, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and above all dependency

Once you start taking these drugs it is extremely hard to lose weight without them. You may lose some weight while you take them, but as soon as you come off them, your weight goes back to its starting point and frequently gees higher. I see hundreds of patients every year who have taken slimming drugs in the past, and who find losing weight without them exceedingly difficult. But when they try the drugs again they need to take more and more to achieve the same results.

These drugs are potentially lethal they can cause heart problems, kidney damage and severe digestive problem. They should never be given to children, unless your paediatrician prescribes them. And of course they don’t address the problem of why you are overweight and how you can change your cating habits and general lifestyle to conquer the problem. Slimming pills should be prescribed by doctors only for patients whose obesity is such that their health is endangered, and never for social or cosmetic reasons.

Setting weight loss goals

Your sensible weight loss journey begins with two questions. How much weight do you want to lose? Is this target reasonable and achievable

It is also worth asking yourself why you want to lose the weight. s it for yourself or someone else In the case of children, is it you the parent who wants them to lose the weight, or are you both determined to work together? Without the will to lose weight, it will be a struggle from day one.

This is particularly important with children. It is essential not to pressure them into losing weight, making meal times into battles. This may trigger pattern of behaviour of eating secretly or using food as a control mechanism The best scenario is to agree with your child that he or she will benefit from getting into better shape, to make them feel and look stronger and fitter.

With both children and adults, it is essential to find positive motivational points, rather than focusing on issues of vanity. The best motivation is if lose excess weight, you have decreased risk of heart disease, cancer, joint problems and diabetes. You should also feel more positive and more confident.

How much weight should you lose?

One guideline for healthy weight is the body mass index (see table on page On average your ideal weight gives you a body mass index (BMI) in the range of 20 to 25. A body mass index of 25 to 30, although not in the seriously weight category, takes your weight into a range in which raised blood pressure and joint problems may start to occur. A body mass index of 30 and over is the dangerous area. It is really only heavy weight lifters with very high proportions of muscle to fat who can reside in this area without damaging their health

Having said this, you should bear in mind that tables are constructed from group of people. They do not take into account your individual body and weight history. Some people don’t look or feel right within the 20-25 range: men who play a lot of sports have a greater than average muscle mass which means that their optimum weight is higher than the recommended ideal. If you feel comfortable at a certain weight and know that it is within a few pounds of the ideal, your body will not be compromised at your current weight.

Equally, if your weight is within the ideal range, but above the point at which you feel happy with your body, it is all right for you to lose few pounds. However, a BMI in the region of 18 or 19 is the lowest acceptable: if your weight drops below this, you are increasing the likelihood of nutrient deficiency problems, halting your periods women), compromising your status and increasing the risk of developing osteoporosis . Young women who keep their weight too low are particularly at risk because the first twenty years of life are crucial when it comes to building strong bones.

Many fitness centres offer body fat measurements. There are number of which this can be impedance meters calculate your body fat by small amounts of harmless electromagnetic skin fold callipers measure the thickness of fat around various areas of your the measure ments are then used to calculate your percentage body fat. The latest electronic measure percentage body fat quite effectively. Bear in mind that body fat charts were compiled in the 1970s when ideas on health and nutrition were very different to today. Their recommended body fat measurements are far lower than the ideal range of 19 to 24 per cent for women and 14 to 17 for men. Even the most accurate reading of your percentage fat will not tell you any more than you already know and can see by standing in front of a

Charting your progress

The best way to assess your progress not by getting the scales. It is far better to consider how you feel yourself and in your clothes. However, if

you want to be able to make some more objective comparisons, take measurements. Using tape measure, take the circumference of your arms, upper thighs, waist and chest and make note of them, along with starting weight, you so desire. If you repeat the process monthly, you should notice that the measurements are

I often see people who weigh themselves every day. This behaviour is tive as you frequently end up being reactive on days when you have lost weight you let the eating habits loosen up bit, and on days when no weight loss shows on the scales, you become depressed and tempted to cut down even Daily weighing tends to show changes in body water. Some days we carry more water than others, so you are reacting to factor which should be ignored.

In addition, fat is lighter than muscle, so if you are combining change in eating habits with healthy increase in exercise, your muscle to fat ratio will improve, but you may become despondent that you are not losing weight as quickly as you want to

A good guide is to lose only about a kilo/2-3 lb a Usually if you lose more weight than this your body is either losing water is frequently the case during the first week of a change in diet) or muscle. In either case you should adjust your diet to slow the weight loss to this recommended rate. Controlled, steady weight/fat loss is what we are Rapid weight loss has a number of negative effects: it can lead to depression, stress, hormonal imbalances, low libido, decreased fertility and an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

How much weight should your child lose?

The easiest and most reliable way to tell whether your child needs to lose weight is to consult their growth charts with your doctor or health In terms of monitoring progress, the same rules apply to children and

agers as to it is much to use a tape measure to show them how their body is changing for the better, or simply go by how they look and feel in their clothes. Encourage your child to eat a healthy diet to enable their weight to catch up with their height. Guide them into good eating practices, such as at the table, eating slowly and concentrating on their food, not watching the television at the same time. They should also be encouraged to be physically active, playing sports, swimming, walking and doing some fun exercise such as dance or For more information on good eating habits, read the chapter on developing a positive relationship with food ), especially the section devoted to children (

Control your weight by positive thinking

Changing to a healthier lifestyle means thinking about the food you into your body. It is not realistic to expect a miraculous overnight change in

weight, or any other aspect of your Set small achievable targets. Take one step at a time and allow yourself

achieve one goal before you attempt the next. This way you will stay positive,

control and family health day. Taking day look how the whole family eats will

help you change your eating and living habits for the better Understand your appetite mechanism. you learn how your body recognizes hunger and fullness ), you can avoid overeating. This one

most valuable lessons you can teach your

Stock your cupboards, refrigerator, drawer work school bag with healthy that you are not tempted chocolates and • Try eat regularly. Basing your eating pattern around three meals day, plus

snacks fruit vegetables, will stop your body from becoming desperately

hungry and prone to grabbing sweet fatty • Tike regular exercise to help you burn up some calories, raise your metabolic rate and keep your

Eating for weight loss

At the end of the day, weight loss based on simple equation: fewer calories than you expend. You can more calories by increasing the amount of exercise you take, but if you are already honestly doing least 20-30 minutes exercise, three or four times week, you should look how you can reduce your calorie intake. Practically everything you put your mouth provides calories (units of energy). Foods with high percentage of water (such as fruit and contain fewer calories than those with high percentage of fat. Gram for gram, carbohydrates and protein provide less than half the calories fat. By understanding the different food groups and how they react within the body, it will become easier to plan healthy diet.


We all need some fat in our diets, to carry important fat-soluble vitamins, to help our bodies produce and regulate hormones, and to provide flavour. How ever, fats are concentrated sources of calories. One of the best ways to reduce

your total calorie intake is to reduce your fat intake. A common to think that margarines and oils have fewer calories than butter, they don’t. However, many oils and some margarines are better choice than butter healthwise as they do not produce cholesterol in the

Unless you have a cholesterol problem . I think the best way to treat fat is to one you like the taste be it butter or olive oil, but keep the quantity down to minimum To cut down your fat

Leave good food alone. Don’t think that every dish to be in a creamy and buttery sauce. Choose the best quality fish, meat, poultry vegetables organic) and cook fillet wrap a in foil and bake it in the oven to seal in the.

Char Grilling gives tasty slant to vegetables, fish and lean meats and they only need a little fat to stop the food from

Instead of cream, base sauces on tomatoes wine, perhaps with a little or a reduction of

• Experiment with yoghurt in dishes where you would normally use cream It can be added to served with vegetables such as baked potatoes, and used in salad dressings Serve it with fresh fruit salad or mix it

with fruit compote to make dessert sauce. Remember not to add yoghurt

to boiling let them cool very slightly as it can curdle. • Choose lean dishes. Cut visible fat off meat and the skin off poultry, Resist pastries, fried and battered

• Beware of false promises. Food labels may claim that food is low-fat, even when fat can be contributing up to 40 per cent of the calories, as long the fat content is lower than it would have been in the original product. foods often need something to replace the flavour, and that something is probably a form of


Natural sugars are found in fruits and vegetables. Refined sugars (which include honey and both white and brown sugar) are found in soft drinks (squashes, cordials and canned drinks), cakes, biscuits, jams and other preserves. All sugar has the same number of calories, but refined sugars are the ones to avoid as far possible, as they provide ’empty’ calories, in other words there is no positive nutritional benefit from eating them. Fresh fruit and fruit desserts will satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time as they contribute valuable vitamins and minerals. Fruit also provides fibre, the sensible dieter’s number one ally see


The reason why people are often confused when they look at food labels is that sometimes sugar is called Sugar is one form of carbohydrate, the other is starch. Both provide the same number of calories. As with sugars above), starches can be natural or Natural starches are found in whole grain, wholemeal and wholewheat breakfast cereals, wholemeal flour and bread, wholewheat pasta, brown rice, potatoes, lentils, chickpeas and beans, parsnips and other root vegetables. These foods are high in fibre and when you them they send signals to the brain telling you when you are full. for spoonful, they are more satisfying than other kinds of

Foods containing refined starch sugary breakfast cereals, biscuits and cakes, white bread, pasta, white rice tend to be less satisfying, meaning you want to more of them, which is when you can easily put on

successful, healthy weight loss diet will be based around high-fibre carbo hydrate They can only help if they are also low in fat, so don’t load them.

up with butter other fats, and keep low-fat cooking techniques Another good reason for choosing these foods is that they don’t aggravate

hunger and energy levels. They processed by body at a slow, steady pace, whereas foods digested and absorbed into the blood very Rapid changes in your blood sugar level can cause your body to into overeat mode. chocolate bar on the way home from work may give you an energy but high refined dealt with by the body in a way that followed by a drop blood sugar level and soon you will be hungry again. In this state you are much more likely to more than your body really needs your evening meal. So only do you consume the 200 so from the chocolate bar, also consume excess calories in your meal.

The converse happens when you banana late afternoon (before desperate for snack). Because the carbohydrate in the banana is combination natural sugar and starch, its energy is released into the blood avoiding the blood sugar crash and subsequent appetite Not only will you be able enjoy your meal more because you won’t be rushing through the food bid to feel better, but you will also be able to judge the point when you have had


For adults, the secret to successful weight loss is fibre. (Young children generally don’t need much fibre, even if they trying to lose their fibre needs will be met through balanced diet. Too much fibre can interfere with the absorption of vital nutrients, so, for children, best to reduce their calorie intake other Fibre within food swells in the stomach in presence of water, stimulating the stretch receptors that send back the fullness centre of the brain For fibre to work efficiently, adults need to drink at least two litres/four pints of water every day

The main providers of fibre in our diet are, firstly, cereals (edible such wheat, corn (maize), oats and rice and foods made from them, preferably wholegrain or wholemeal types, including bread, pasta and breakfast The other great fibre providers are vegetables (including the dried beans and

lentils known pulses) and fruits If have problem with wind when you start increasing fibre suggest you stagger your intake throughout the day, so that your body gets used dealing with a small amount of fibre every meal

Fibre can help your body deal with sweet foods, both by increasing their satisfaction value and helping you feel fuller, and by slowing the absorption of the sugar into the blood and helping to stave off hunger pangs. In simple this means that, while mango high in fibre content and low fat makes far better choice of snack than chocolate bar. Equally, slice of cake made with wholemeal flour oats, such as carrot cake or flapjacks, will have the same number of calories slice of buttery Madeira cake, but it will make you.

feel more satisfied and keep the hunger pangs away for longer. Always try to tie some fibre with a sweet food if you can’t resist chocolate, eat only a small amount after a meal that includes plenty of vegetables.


Within a weight loss programme you can never eat too many vegetables With the exception of potatoes, which are rich in starch and therefore higher in calories, vegetables contain so few calories and so much fibre that you can hardly avoid losing weight – with the usual provisos that they are cooked and served with a minimum of fat, and that you drink plenty of water

Fruits are slightly different, because they contain fructose, which is a natural sugar. In theory you could fail to lose weight if you exceed five pieces of fruit a day. Be especially careful with ready-to-eat dried fruits. Although they have many nutritional benefits besides being high in fibre, they are high in fructose. So munching a bag of dried apricots can amount to quite a lot of calories

Soups are a good way of including more vegetables in your diet. A bowl of soup is an excellent lunch-time snack, or after-school/after-work filler to keep you going until your main meal. If you are looking for a ‘free” soup, avoid those based on carbohydrate-rich foods, such as pasta or potatoes, but think of all the lovely soups to be made with red, green and orange vegetables and fresh herbs.


Protein ensures that your muscles, energy level and immune systems stay strong. However, people in westernized societies generally eat far too much protein. While lean protein is better for you than fatty or sugary foods, if you take in more than you need, the excess will be converted into fat. Most people need a rich source of lean protein at their main meal, in a portion size equivalent to a chicken breast, and a small amount in a second meal

Alcohol and weight loss

Alcohol is very calorific, providing seven calories (ka) per gram, compared with nine for fats and approximately four for carbohydrates and protein. It is very casy to consume excess calories by drinking alcohol. In addition, alcohol provides your body with calories without many other useful nutrients (although some wines do contain antioxidants that help to protect our general health

Alcohol also increases your appetite by lowering your blood sugar level, signalling the hunger centre in your brain. A small amount of your favourite wine or other alcoholic drink can complement your food, but we the alcohol until you have a little food inside your stomach to stop your blood sugar level dropping dramatically. Some people find that cutting out alcohol leads to a major calorie reduction