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How to Manage Your Weight

How to manage your weight

This guide provides basic information to help you start managing your weight until your appointment with a registered dietitian, the nutrition expert. These are general guidelines that may be tailored to meet your needs. Eating healthy often means making changes in your current eating habits. A registered dietitian can provide in-depth personalized nutrition education to help you develop a personal action plan.

Weight management guidelines

A positive attitude is very important for successful weight management. To lose weight permanently, you make a commitment to gradually adopt a healthier "weigh" of life.

You can control your weight! The best way to lose weight is to eat foods that contain nutrients that your body needs but that are lower in calories, and to be physically active daily.

"Starving" can leave you feeling deprived and increase the temptation to binge. Often, very-low-calorie diets can have the opposite effect and slow down weight loss. Very-low-calorie diets also lack a lot of important nutrients--increasing your chance of becoming malnourished. Most importantly, research shows that people who follow very-low-calorie diets usually gain all their weight back. People who lose weight slowly--by eating less, exercising more, and making permanent changes to their eating habits--tend to keep the weight off.

Goals for healthy eating

  • Set realistic weight loss goals, such as a 1- to 2-pound weight loss per week.
  • Eat fewer calories by cutting down on portions. An easy way to portion your plate is to put fruit and vegetables on half, starch on one quarter, and protein on the other quarter. Include a cup of low-fat milk and you have a complete meal!
  • Do not skip meals.
  • Keep snacks that are low in added sugar and fat on hand.
  • Choose foods high in fiber, such as whole grain breads, whole grain cereals, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, fruits, and vegetables.
  • To ensure you are eating healthfully, keep an accurate food journal. Write down everything you eat or drink and be honest and accurate. A food journal will help you learn about your eating habits and help you think about the food choices you are making.
  • Incorporate at least 30 minutes of physical activity most if not all days of the week. Always consult your doctor before starting an exercise routine.

MyPyramid displays the different food groups. To personalize your plan, go to www.mypyramid.gov. Enter your age, gender, and activity level, and choose the Submit button. You can view and/or print your plan.

Foods to choose for weight management*

*These amounts are based on a 2,000-calorie/day diet.

6 ounces grains
Make half of your grains whole.
1 oz. equals:

  • 1 slice whole grain bread OR
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or cereal OR
  • 1 cup cold cereal

2 servings fruit/day
Make your fruits colorful.
1 serving equals:

  • Fresh fruit the size of a baseball OR
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit OR
  • 1/2 cup canned fruit

2 1/2 servings vegetables/day
Choose a variety of colors.
1 serving equals:

  • 2 cups raw leafy greens OR
  • 1 cup raw vegetables OR
  • ½ cup cooked vegetables

5 1/2 oz. meat and beans/day
Go lean.

  • Choose low-fat or lean meats.
  • Remove skin and visible fat.
  • Bake, boil, or grill.
  • 3 oz. = the size of a deck of cards

3 servings milk/milk substitute
Choose low-fat varieties.
1 serving equals:

  • 1 cup low-fat or fat-free milk, fortified soy beverage OR
  • 6 ounces yogurt OR
  • 1 1/2 oz. natural cheese, 2 oz. processed cheese

Fats, sugar, and salts
Use in limited amounts.

  • Choose unsaturated fats like olive or canola oil.
  • Read the nutrition label to keep saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium low.
  • Choose foods and beverages low in added sugars.

This handout provides general guidelines for managing your weight. The next step is to make an appointment with a registered dietitian, the nutrition expert. A registered dietitian will: evaluate different health factors to determine your individual nutritional status; review your diet history, targeting cholesterol and fat sources; explain product selection, label reading, cooking methods, menu planning, and dining out; and develop an individualized treatment that will meet your needs.

© Copyright 1995-2009 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 8/15/2009…#6216