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Reach and keep your healthy body weight

A picture of a healthy salad with chicken, raspberries, tomato and spinach. .

Is it possible to lose weight and keep it off?

Yes. Research shows that people who lose weight and keep it off use 4 main strategies, they:

  1. Enjoy foods that are low in fat and high in fibre
  2. Enjoy daily physical activities
  3. Weigh themselves regularly
  4. Use food and activity logs to help them stay on track

How can you reach and keep your healthy body weight?

Health Canada and Dietitians of Canada urge you to achieve and stay at a healthy body weight by thinking about healthy eating and regular physical activity as parts of your everyday life. This approach involves making small changes to your eating and activity habits over time.

1. Eat healthy foods

  • Use Canada's Food Guide to guide you in selecting a low fat, high fibre diet that meets your body's nutrient needs.
  • Eat lots of vegetables, fruits, and legumes.
  • Eat whole grains, breads, and cereals.
  • Eat some protein (fish, chicken, lean meat, legumes, nut butters) at every meal.
  • Replace high fat foods with low or no fat foods.
  • Read food labels to compare fat and fibre content of foods.

2. Eat regularly

  • Eat small amounts of food, 3 to 4 times a day.
  • Hungry in the afternoon? Plan healthy snacks (carrots, cereal, yogurt, a hardboiled egg).

3. Enjoy all foods in moderation

  • Eat smaller portions. Check Canada's Food Guide for ideal portion sizes.
  • Fill your plate 2/3 (or more) with vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans and 1/3 (or less) with animal protein.
  • Measure portions using measuring cups, spoons or weight scales to see what healthy portion sizes look like.
  • Reject the "good foods" versus "bad foods" idea. ALL foods can fit within a healthy diet. Do you love chocolate? You can still enjoy chocolate as part of your healthy diet-just buy and eat smaller portions, less often.

4. Listen to your body

  • Stop eating while you still feel comfortable (no longer hungry yet not too full).
  • When you feel hungry, eat healthy foods that you enjoy.
  • Be mindful about what and when you eat-try not to overeat or starve yourself.

5. Set reasonable goals

  • See weight loss as a long term goal. Instead of focusing on your overall goal to lose 20 pounds, set small goals to lose 1 to 2 pounds each week (at most) for 3 months.
  • Focus on long term positive changes (dropping a dress size) rather than short term setbacks (eating that extra piece of pizza at a party).
  • Make small, lasting changes to your eating and exercise habits.
  • Celebrate your successes! Choose nonedible rewards.

6. Keep track of your success

  • Keep a diary to record your food choices and help you stay on track.
  • Plan meals a week ahead.
  • Keep a physical activity diary to help you track your success and set new goals.
  • Are your clothes feeling looser? That's a great sign, keep up the good work!
  • Weigh yourself weekly (not daily) using the same scale and at the same time of day.

7. Enjoy regular physical activities

  • What activities do you enjoy? Walking, bike riding, gardening? Regular physical activity will burn more calories and help you build muscle while losing fat.
  • Regular activity is a great way to relieve stress, help you cope with anxiety, strengthen your bones, improve your sleep, lower chronic disease risk, and have fun with friends and family.
  • Get a pedometer and hit the sidewalk! Pedometers are available at many department and sporting goods stores and can be borrowed at some libraries.
  • Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity each day