Hospital  >  Care Programs  >  Odette Cancer Program  >  Prevention and detection  >  Your Nutrition Connection  >  Food, nutrition & physical activity recommendations  >  Overview  >  1. Be as lean as possible within the range of body weight

1. Be as lean as possible within the range of body weight

An image of a woman stepping onto a scale, with a tape measure at her feet. She must be having a ton of fun!

A closer look at the recommendations for reducing your overall cancer risk

  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Avoid weight gain and increases in waist circumference in adulthood

What is a healthy body weight?

Health Canada defines your "healthy body weight" as the weight range linked to the lowest risk of chronic diseases based on your height, weight and sex. Two tools are used to find your healthy body weight range: body mass index (BMI) (your body weight in relation to your height) and waist circumference measurement (distance around your waist). To calculate your BMI and waist circumference, see the Your Nutrition Connection brochures How to Assess your Body Weight and Healthy Body Weight and Breast Cancer Risk available from the Odette Cancer Centre or, in PDF form, at ync.sunnybrook.ca.

Why are healthy body weight and waist circumference important?

Waist circumference measurements that are 35 inches (88 cm) or greater for women and 40 inches (102 cm) or greater for men are linked to higher risk of chronic disease. Achieving and maintaining a body weight within the healthy range is strongly linked to lower overall cancer risk. Maintaining a healthy weight and an appropriate waist circumference lowers your risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

How to achieve and maintain a healthy weight

  • Enjoy all foods in moderation
  • Eat regularly (3 to 4 small meals a day)
  • Plan your meals and snacks
  • Control portion sizes
    • Compare your portions to Canada's Food Guide serving sizes
    • Buy smaller packages of food
    • Ask for smaller portions at meals
    • Use a smaller plate
    • Plate your snacks (don't just eat out of the bag or box!)
  • Eat slowly
  • Limit foods that are high in calories and fat and low in fibre, such as fast foods, cookies and chocolate
  • Eat mostly plant foods: vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes (dried peas, beans and lentils). See recommendation 4 for more information.
  • Weigh yourself regularly to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
  • Start your meal with a soup, salad or a glass of water
  • Keep a food and activity diary to help you stay on track
  • Weigh yourself regularly
  • Stop eating while you still feel comfortable (no longer hungry, yet not too full)
  • Reduce mindless eating (e.g. while watching television, or on the computer)
  • Set reasonable weight loss goals (1 to 2 pounds each week at most)
  • Drink at least 8 cups of water daily
  • Limit alcohol intake