Updated: September 29, 2013 6:13AM
Why is weight management important?
In addition to helping you feel and look better, reaching a healthier body weight is good for your overall health and well-being. If you are overweight or obese, you have a greater risk of developing many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.
The secret to success is making changes and sticking with them.
Eat the right amount of calories for you: Everyone has a personal calorie limit. Staying within yours can help you get to or maintain a healthy weight.
Reaching a healthier weight is a balancing act. The secret is learning how to balance your “energy in” and “energy out” over the long run. “Energy in” is the calories from foods and beverages you have each day. “Energy out” is the calories you burn for basic body functions and physical activity.
The current high rates of overweight and obesity in the United States mean that many people are taking in more calories than they burn.
Decrease portion sizes: The Dietary Guidelines encourage you to enjoy your food, but eat less and to avoid oversized portions. The amount you eat or drink plays an important role in your energy balance strategy. Most people eat and drink more when served larger portions.
Choosing smaller portions can help you lose weight and keep it off.
Focus on foods you need: Building a healthier plate can help you meet your nutrient needs and maintain your weight. Foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein foods contain the nutrients you need without too many calories.
Cook more often at home: Over the last few decades, Americans have been eating out more and cooking at home less often.
When you cook at home, you can often make better choices about what and how much you eat and drink than you do when eating out.
Cooking can also be a fun activity and a way for you to spend time with family and friends.
When eating out, make better choices: How often do you eat out? Once a day? Once a week? Rarely? Almost every meal?
People who eat out more often, particularly at fast food restaurants, are more likely to be overweight or obese. However, you can still manage your body weight when eating out by making better choices.
To eat out without blowing your calorie budget, there are three things to think about:
1. What you are eating and drinking
2. How much you are eating and drinking
3. How your meal is prepared.
Increase physical activity: Physical activity is an important part of managing body weight. Being physically active can help you achieve a healthy weight and prevent excess weight gain.
However, physical activity is also important to all other aspects of your health. Benefits include sleeping better at night, decreasing your chances of becoming depressed, and helping you look good.
The amount of physical activity needed to manage body weight depends on calorie intake and varies a lot from person to person. Some adults will need to do more physical activity than others to manage body weight.
Decrease screen time: To help manage your body weight, reduce the amount of time you spend being sedentary.
This includes time spent in front of a screen — including watching television, playing video games, and using the computer.
People who spend more time being sedentary, particularly watching television, are more likely to be overweight or obese.
Most people can’t change how much time they spend on the computer for work or school, but you can decrease your screen time during other times of the day and on the weekend.
For more information, visit www.choosemyplate.gov.