What Are Health Risks of Excess Weight?
Weight loss can help reduce the risk of developing serious health conditions, and it is important to get information before starting a weight loss plan. People who lose weight gradually and naturally, about 1 to 2 pounds per week, tend to have more success over the long term than people who try fad diets.
Excess weight gain is a significant concern for many people. Being overweight and obese can lead to numerous health problems, such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Heart disease
- Sleep apnea
- Metabolic syndrome
- Fatty liver diseases, including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis
- Gallbladder diseases, including gallstones and cholecystitis
- Some cancers
- Kidney disease
- Pregnancy problems, such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and needing a cesarean section (C-section)
- Higher risk for mental health problems such as depression
How Can I Lose Weight Naturally?
Diet and exercise are natural ways to lose weight. There are four main components to making lifestyle changes that can aid in weight loss:
- Identify triggers that make you want to eat
- Keep a record of what you eat, where you eat, when you eat, and how you feel when you eat
- This can help identify triggers such as time of day or a certain place or certain feelings that cause you to want to eat
- Change eating habits
- Use smaller plates
- Eat more slowly
- Add more colorful foods to meals
- Keep healthy snacks such as chopped vegetables, fruits, and nuts on hand for between meals
- Add more whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and low fat/low sugar yogurt to the diet
- Avoid foods such as French fries or chips, sugar-sweetened beverages, red or processed meats, foods that contain trans fats, and highly processed foods
- Set goals and using rewards
- Do not use food as a reward
- Reward yourself not for weight loss, but for changing unhealthy behaviors
- Try rewards such as buying new clothing, personal care such as a manicure or massage, or leisure activities such as watching a movie or playing a game
- Small rewards each time you choose healthier options can reinforce the value of the healthy behavior
- Set clear goals, i.e. avoiding snacking or losing 5% of your current weight by a certain date
- Add more activity into the day
- Aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking
- Add activity whenever you can: for example, take the stairs instead of the elevator or park farther from the store
- Other factors that contribute to successful weight loss
- Find a friend or family member who understands your goals to support and reinforce healthy behavior
- Learn to avoid temptations
- Learn to say "no," such as when you might be urged to eat at social gatherings
- Develop strategies for events before you go, such as eating beforehand or bringing your own low-calorie snacks and calorie-free drinks
- Practice positive thinking
- If you make a mistake and eat something unhealthy, instead of thinking you’ve blown your diet, think of ways to get back on track
- Reduce stress
- Organized weight loss programs such as Weight Watchers, Overeaters Anonymous, and Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) may work for some people
How Do I Choose A New Eating Plan?
You may first want to figure out how many calories you need each day, which depends on your current and target weight, gender, and activity level. Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist to help determine the caloric intake that is right for you.
In general, choose foods with sufficient protein, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, and vitamins. Avoid alcohol, sugar-sweetened beverages (sodas and fruit drinks), and sweets (cookies, candy, cakes), which have a lot of calories but lack important nutrients.
There is not necessarily a single "best" weight loss diet that works for everyone. The diet that works best for you is the one you are able to stick to.
Restrictive diets may cause quick weight loss, but most people gain the weight back as soon as they stop the diet. Fad diets as well are not always safe or effective. They may result in quick weight loss, but may often cost a lot of money because they require seminars, pills, or packaged food. If a diet sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Talk to a health care professional to help find a safe, effective, natural way to lose weight and keep it off.
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