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Being overweight can seriously affect your health. If you're overweight, you're more likely to develop health problems such as heart disease, a stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Most overweight people are overweight because they consume more energy than they use through physical activity. This means that the best way to lose weight is to make achievable, long-lasting changes to your eating and physical activity habits.
The good news is that losing weight is not only healthy, it is great for self-esteem, confidence, and that 'feelgood' factor. Once you start seeing results, you'll probably want to lose more. You'll also feel able to achieve more, have more energy, and sleep better.
A good first step to weight loss is to find out what your Body Mass Index (BMI) is. BMI is used to estimate a healthy body weight based on height. It's easy to calculate. The NHS Choices website has a BMI Calculator you can use.
Consult your GP, who can help you to assess your current diet and levels of physical activity, and set goals for change.
1. Plan your day in advance. Planning meals and activities ahead means you are more likely to make the healthier choices to stay on track.
2. Eat regular meals. Following a regular meal pattern is proven to aid weight loss. Have breakfast daily, and plan your meals and snacks to suit your lifestyle. You will avoid feeling hungry, and find it easier to stick to the healthier choices.
3. Eat in a low fat way. Choose lower fat cheeses, milk, yoghurts, spreads, sauces, and dressings. Food label information will help you to make low fat choices when shopping. Choose snacks with less than three grams of fat per 100 grams.
4. Eat your 5 a day. Fruits and vegetables can help you with your weight loss targets in many ways. These fibre-rich foods help to keep you feeling full up and satisfied, as well as adding variety to your meals.
5. Monitor your progress. Keeping a food and activity diary makes you more aware of your choices, and is proven to help you to be more successful with making lifestyle changes. Weigh yourself just once a week at the same time of the day to monitor your weight loss.
6. Keep active. Try to build activity into your everyday life, for example taking the stairs rather than the lift, or getting off the bus a stop earlier.
7. Include healthy snacks. Examples could be: a small bowl of plain popcorn; two oatmeal biscuits with low fat spread or dip; a cereal bar (maximum 100kcal); 200 grammes of fruit salad; a low calorie hot chocolate drink; or a low calorie yoghurt.
8. Look at food labels. Understanding food labels helps you to make a healthier choice. Look at the calorie, fat, and sugar content to guide you to products which support your weight loss goals.
9. Control your portions. Even when eating the healthier choice it is important to control how much is on your plate. Many people find that simply using a smaller plate can help them to lose weight.
10. Be mindful when eating. Chewing your food more slowly helps you to recognise when you have had enough. Avoid eating on the go, and instead sit at a table to help you focus more on what and how much you are eating.
If you are concerned about your diet or about gaining weight then talk to your GP, who may refer you on to a dietician for specialist advice on what to eat.
Free weight management programmes and services for adults and children are provided across the county by Anglian Community Enterprise (ACE). They'll help you get fitter and enjoy a healthier relationship with food, too.
Provide's Essex Lifestyle Service aims to empower the people of Essex to make healthy lifestyle choices, and live healthier happier lives. This is done by listening to you, discussing your needs and providing up to date support to help you make changes to your current lifestyle.
They offer stop smoking support, guidance on diet and exercise, and help with developing increased self-esteem and self-management. They also offer classes to support people suffering from long term conditions, and are able to sign post people to appropriate support provided in their community. You can refer yourself to this free service by visiting their website.
For some useful ideas on how to improve your fitness levels at any age - even from the comfort of your own home - see our page Technology for fitness.
The Change4Life campaign includes recipes and ideas on how the whole family can make changes towards a healthier lifestyle.
Weight Loss Resources provide information on various aspects of losing weight, as well as a useful guide to calories in common foods.
The British Dietetic Association's website Weight Wise has easy-to-follow hints and tips to help you permanently manage your weight. It will help you take a look at your current eating habits and physical activity levels, and offers a practical approach to setting your own goals for lifestyle change.
Weight Concern is a charity providing information, advice, and support on all aspects of weight loss.
MoreLife deliver free group-based weight management programmes for adults with a BMI of over 35, who are looking to lose weight in the Essex area. Their team includes a GP, dietician and therapists. The programme looks at the psychological aspects of weight loss, as well as giving dietary advice, and guidance on physical activity in order to promote weight loss and enhance well-being. To join, please visit your GP and ask to be referred. For more information, visit their website, or call them on 0800 038 9050.
The NHS Choices website has a big range of tools and valuable information to help you lose weight.
The Easy Health website has gathered together various easy-to-read leaflets which will help people with learning disabilities to understand more about their weight and how to keep it at a safe and healthy level.
Essex Libraries have some useful booklists you may be interested in called Eating Well, Exercise and Essex Walks.
© Essex County Council 2018