Although the best strategies for healthy weight management vary from one person to the next, some advice is key to adopting good eating habits. Here are seven of the most common tips for staying healthy and maintaining a healthy weight.
- Vegetables, vegetables and more vegetables… and fruit too!
According to the new edition of Canada’s Food Guide, vegetables and fruit should make up at least half of your plate. The reality is quite different for many people. In 2016, 70% of Canadians over the age of 12 reported not eating enough fruit and vegetables.1 Vegetables are rich in nutrients and fibre, as well as low in calories, making them good allies at each meal. Since fibre gives you a feeling of fullness, it helps control your hunger. Whether you eat them a soup, a salad, raw or in a stir-fry, what matters most is that vegetables are there!
- Eat more consciously
We eat first and foremost to meet our body’s needs. The body has its own hunger and fullness signals that tell us when we should eat and when we should stop. With age, for multiple reasons, we listen less frequently to these signals and fall more easily into overeating. To counteract this phenomenon and stay alert to the signals your body sends, you should eat only when you’re hungry, avoid distractions (such as watching TV) while eating and take the time to enjoy your food.2
- Be active
Regular exercise helps strengthen your muscles which, by becoming stronger, make you expend more energy even when you’re not moving! Any activity that speeds up the heart rate or your breathing improves physical fitness. As a result, you don’t need to engage in high intensity activities to be active. Canadian adults should do 150 minutes of physical activity per week, which can be divided into 10-minute sessions. To enjoy the maximum health benefits, consider combining aerobic exercises, which improve cardiovascular health, with strengthening exercise, which builds muscle mass.3
- Three meals a day, every day!
A number of studies suggest that there is a link between skipping breakfast and being overweight, both in adults4 and children.5 The cause of this association has not been conclusively demonstrated, but several hypotheses have been put forward. According to one of them, not eating breakfast may lead to more snacking or excessive hunger at lunchtime. Also, skipping any meal can reduce appetite control.6 When we are too hungry, it may become difficult to control the quality and quantity of what we eat, as well as the speed at which we eat. It has been shown that people who eat fast tend to consume more calories7 and have a higher weight.8
- Don’t believe in miracles
Slimming diets offer tempting solutions by promising quick weight loss. Although some diets can indeed lead to significant weight loss, they often impose dietary restrictions that are hard to maintain in the long term. In fact, it often happens that all the pounds a dieter loses come back once they finish dieting. Following rapid weight loss, the body tends to adapt by using less energy to limit further weight loss. This phenomenon, called “metabolic adaptation,” can persist long after the diet is over. In this context, if the body burns fewer calories to function, it is much easier to consume too many calories. Slimming diets are therefore not the best solution for sustainable weight loss.
- Stay well hydrated, but avoid drinking your calories!
In sufficient amounts, water can help reduce the number of calories you consume in a day, thereby helping prevent obesity9 and contributing to weight loss.10 Drinking sweetened beverages and juices can increase the number of calories consumed and lead to weight gain.9 These beverages can actually contain a lot of calories and contribute very little to the feeling of fullness.
- Rome wasn’t built in a day
People who have a habit of eating vegetables at every meal will easily follow the recommendations of the new Canada’s Food Guide. On the other hand, those who have difficulty including vegetables in their diet will find the recommendations somewhat unrealistic. It’s all a matter of baby steps and perseverance. The same idea applies to physical activity. However, the results are sometimes faster. It is possible for a sedentary person to see positive effects as soon as they add only 10 minutes of brisk walking per day.11 So, when setting goals, it is important to consider your context, resources and abilities to determine what is realistic.
A proud representative of the new generation of nutritionists, Catherine uses her theoretical and practical knowledge to judiciously counsel BiogeniQ’s patients. In particular, she ensures that patients understand their nutrigenomics test result, taking care to place it in perspective with their lifestyle habits. She also writes articles and other content on nutrition.
- Statistics Canada (September 27, 2017). “Fruit and vegetable consumption, 2016.” https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-625-x/2017001/article/54860-eng.htm (accessed April 25, 2019).
- Government of Canada (2019). “Canada’s Food Guide.” https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-habits/ (accessed April 25, 2019).
- Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (2018). “How-much-physical-activity-do-you-need?” https://www.heartandstroke.ca/get-healthy/stay-active/how-much-physical-activity-do-you-need (accessed April 2019).
- Deshmukh-Taskar, P.R. et al. “The relationship of breakfast skipping and type of breakfast consumed with overweight/obesity, abdominal obesity, other cardiometabolic risk factors and the metabolic syndrome in young adults. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES): 1999-2006.” Public Health Nutr. (2012): 1-10.
- Deshmukh-Taskar, P.R. et al. “The relationship of breakfast skipping and type of breakfast consumption with nutrient intake and weight status in children and adolescents: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2006.” J. Am Diet Assoc. (2010): Vol. 110, #6, 869-878.
- Leidy, Heather J. and Wayne W. Campbell. “The Effect of Eating Frequency on Appetite Control and Food Intake: Brief Synopsis of Controlled Feeding Studies.” The Journal of Nutrition (January 2011): Vol. 141, #1, 154-157. [https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.109.114389]
- Robinson, Eric, Eva Almiron-Roig, Femke Rutters, Cees de Graaf, Ciarán G. Forde, Catrin Tudur Smith, Sarah J. Nolan and Susan A. Jebb. “A systematic review and meta-analysis examining the effect of eating rate on energy intake and hunger.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, (July 2014): Vol. 100, #1, 123-151. [https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.113.081745]
- Mesas, A., M. Muñoz-Pareja, E. López-García and F. Rodríguez-Artalejo. “Selected eating behaviours and excess body weight: A systematic review.” Obesity Reviews(2012): Vol. 13, #2, 106-135.
- Daniels, Melissa C. and Barry M. Popkin. “Impact of water intake on energy intake and weight status: a systematic review.” Nutrition Reviews (September 1, 2010): Vol. 68, #9, 505–521.
- Muckelbauer, Rebecca, Giselle Sarganas, Anke Grüneis and Jacqueline Müller-Nordhorn. “Association between water consumption and body weight outcomes: a systematic review.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (August 2013): Vol. 98, #2, 282-299.
- Public Health England (2017). “10-minutes brisk walking each day in mid-life for health benefits and towards achieving physical activity recommendations.” PHE Publications, 2017, London. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/639030/Health_benefits_of_10_mins_brisk_walking_evidence_summary.pdf] (accessed April 25, 2019).