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Healthy weight-loss

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The simplest, most effective way of losing weight is to adjust your eating habits for life. By making small changes to your day-to-day eating habits, you are able to incorporate long term healthy eating habits. These guidelines will give you a head start to your healthier, long term weight loss:

Restrict the fats

Your diet should be generally low in fat.  Fats are energy-dense and should therefore be restricted.  Eating fats in excess, even the healthy kind, may cause you to gain weight.  

Choose lower fat versions of dairy products and leaner versions of meat products.  Fast foods and takeaways tend to contain more fat than you may be aware of, and should be reserved for eating on special occasions only.  Preparing your foods at home gives you better control over how much fat goes into the meal. 

Certain fats and oils, such as omega 3’s found in fatty fish and monounsaturated fats such as olive and canola oil promote good health, and the inclusion of these fats into your diet on a daily basis is recommended.  Aim to eat 2 – 3 servings of oily fish per week, and when choosing vegetables oils, use only 1 teaspoon per person sharing when preparing a meal. 

Encourage the vegetables and fruit

Vegetables and fruits make quick and easy low fat snacks for refuelling, and they contain beneficial nutrients with relatively fewer kilojoules when compared to other snack foods. At least 5 servings of a variety of different vegetables and/or fruit is recommended every day.  

Plan a serving of protein at every meal

A serving of protein-rich food should be planned at every meal. This helps to stabilise your blood sugar levels and will help prevent you from feeling too hungry in between your meals.  Always remember that when choosing a protein food, you should opt for the leaner or lower fat options.  Remember also to remove excess fat from meat before cooking, including the skin of chicken. 

Focus on higher-fibre lower-GI carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are an important part of a balanced weight management plan, but the portion and quality of carbohydrates you choose is also important.  In general, one serving should not be greater than the size of your fist / ± 1 cup / 2 slices of bread.  When choosing a carbohydrate-based food, always opt for the higher-fibre, less refined version of that food.  The table below shows some examples:

Instead of…

Rather choose…

Cooked potatoes with the skin removed

Cooked potatoes eaten with the skin and baby potatoes

White bread

Whole-wheat or seed bread

Breakfast cereals which do not offer a source of fibre

High fibre breakfast cereals

White pasta or rice

Whole wheat pasta and brown rice

High energy low fibre snacks

Homemade popcorn


Don’t forget the dairy!

Low fat and fat free dairy products such as milk, low fat cheese, yoghurt and maas are a source of protein and calcium, and these foods should be eaten every day.  There are many delicious lower-fat dairy products on the market, such as fat free drinking yoghurts, flavoured low fat milks and low fat cottage cheese.  Dairy can provide a substantial snack or accompaniment to your meal.   

Restrict the sugary foods

Sugar and sugary foods, such as biscuits, cakes, chocolate, sweets and soft drinks  are ‘empty calorie foods’ providing you with a lot of extra energy, but not much nutrition.

  • Avoid all fizzy drinks and energy drinks that are high in sugar.
  • If you feel in need of something sweet, cut up some fresh fruit or have dried fruit such as mango.
  • Prepare a mug of hot chocolate using cocoa, hot fat free milk and sweetener for a low fat treat.

Limit alcohol

Alcohol has very high energy content and it may interfere with your body’s normal metabolism.   Drinking alcohol in excess also affects your judgement, and may result in you eating foods which you may not normally eat as part of your healthy eating plan.  If you choose to drink alcohol, drink moderately with no more than 1 – 2 drinks per day.

Increase your fluids

Being just slightly dehydrated may be misinterpreted as hunger.  Try to spread your water intake evenly across the day.  Have a glass when you wake up, one with breakfast, one with your morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner and before bed.  Keep a bottle of water on your desk at work and tip regularly from it across the day.  Flavour your water with freshly chopped fruit and mint for extra fruity freshness!

Get fitter

Your metabolism is the body’s fat burner, so build up your body’s muscle mass and lose the fat through sensible eating along with regular exercise.  Try a brisk walk for ½ an hour at least three times a week, go swimming or sign up at your local gym and develop more energy-burning muscle by doing more weight training. 

This information is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. For more information please contact Pick n Pay Health Hotline on 0800 11 22 88 or healthhotline@pnp.co.za

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