Weight Control Tips and Tricks

Most of us don’t need to be reminded about the importance of keeping our weight in check. It’s a message we’ve heard or read a hundred, maybe even a thousand times. As we all know, though, the trick isn’t in knowing the message, it’s in the doing. And, in our world of super-size this and super-size that, keeping a handle on our weight is certainly a tall order.

But the benefits of maintaining a healthy weight are enormous, including a lower risk of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Try these simple tips for keeping the extra pounds at bay:

Exercise, exercise, exercise.

Study after study shows how import regular physical activity is for keeping weight in check. For some reason, burning extra calories by being more active seems to be the best way to stay ahead of the calories we eat. Try fitting some amount of physical activity into each day. More is almost always better, but any amount is better than none.

Eat a lot of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Don’t worry about total fat.

Growing evidence shows that a Mediterranean-type diet rich in plant foods and healthy oils (like olive oil) can help keep weight under control. The added bonus? These types of diets can actually be very enjoyable to eat: They are filling, can taste good and have a mellow influence on blood sugar levels, which can help keep feelings of hunger in check. And don’t worry too much about how much fat you’re eating – as long as it’s healthy fat. Low-fat diets don’t really seem to help keep the pounds off over the long term.

Be wary of diet crazes.

Each month (sometimes each week) we’re assaulted by some new diet that’s said to magically melt the pounds away. And since most of us have been struggling with our weight for a long time, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype. The reality, though, is that most of these diets just don’t work over the long term. And if they happen to work over the short term, they’re usually too extreme, too expensive or just too darn strange to keep up for a lifetime. So when it comes to losing weight, the best diet is one that you enjoy, that will keep you healthy and that you can easily keep up over the months and years.

Choose small portions, and eat slowly.

Not surprisingly, government surveys have found that the super-sizing of meals has now entered the home as well. With more and more food in front of us when we eat in or eat out, it’s easy to see how the pounds start to creep up over the years. One way to combat this is simply to choose smaller portions and eat more slowly wherever we eat. This can give the body a chance to feel full before we decide if we want seconds.

Be a mindful eater and shopper.

A lot of the time we eat without thinking about whether we’re actually hungry. And that tends to suit the food industry just fine. Food is flavored, packaged, priced and placed with the main intention of getting consumers to buy it and eat it. Keeping this in mind when we see commercials, shop for groceries or choose a restaurant meal can really help us navigate the maze of unhealthy choices and get in touch with what our bodies really need.

Lobby for change.

Making healthy changes is always easier when you’re supported by the people and places that surround you. If neighborhoods have sidewalks and bike paths, we’ll be more likely to use them. If schools offer healthy meals to our kids, they’ll be more likely to choose them. Taking steps to help our communities become healthier places benefits everyone and helps each of us make and keep up with our own healthy behaviors.

Yes, it can seem daunting to try to get something like a new bike path in your neighborhood or better food choices in your kids’ schools, but you can always start small with a phone call or e-mail and then build from there. Like many good changes, it’s that first step that can be the hardest, but it’s usually well worth it.