How can I lose weight and be healthier?
- Our weight loss tips are based on scientific evidence and can help you create some healthy habits.
- Keeping a healthy weight cuts your risk of cancer and other serious diseases.
- You can also get support from your GP and local weight loss groups.
This information is for people who are overweight who want to lose weight and it will be useful for anyone wanting to stay a healthy weight. It is not for people who are underweight. You can use our BMI calculator to find out if you are a healthy weight for your height.
Keeping a healthy weight has loads of benefits, including reducing the risk of cancer. Eating healthier foods, not eating too much and getting more active can help you be a healthy weight.
We know it can be difficult. Lots of things impact our weight, and the world we live in affects how healthy we are. But there are changes we can make to be healthier.
Your GP practice, or a local support group can also give you help and information on losing weight.
- Keep to a meal routine. Eat at roughly the same time each day. This can help you avoid unplanned meals and snacks.
- Cut down on calories and look for low fat options. Foods high in fat and calories can make you put on weight.
- Try to walk 10,000 steps a day. It might sound like a lot but start with small increases and you’ll soon increase your steps. Taking the stairs and walking to the shop can all add up.
- Pack a healthy snack. Try swapping biscuits for a piece of fruit or plain popcorn.
- Look at the labels. Food labels can tell you about how healthy food is. Pick options higher in fibre and lower in fat, salt and sugar. Find out more about how to read food labels below.
- Caution with your portions. It’s not just what you eat and drink, how much is important too. Don’t heap food on your plate and think twice before having seconds.
- Get up on your feet. Sitting less has lots of benefits. You could stand on the bus or train, during TV adverts, or when you’re on the phone.
- Think about your drinks. Alcohol, fizzy drinks and energy drinks can be high in sugar and calories. Try to choose water or sugar-free squashes, and limit fruit juice to one glass per day.
- Focus on your food. It’s easy to eat more if you’re on the go, watching TV or working. Eating slowly can be an effective way to eat less.
- Don’t forget your 5 a day. Having fruit or veg at every meal makes it easier to get at least 5 a day. It can be fresh, frozen or tinned.
How can I make healthy changes stick long-term?
Forming long-term habits will help you lose weight safely and keep it off.
Most ‘quick fix’ or crash diets aren’t a long-term solution and most people gain back the weight they lost. The NHS recommend a safe weight loss of 0.5kg to 1kg (1lb to 2lb) per week.
- Decide when to do it. Choose a point in your daily routine where you can most easily make your change. Then do it every time. For example, you might decide to take the stairs instead of the lift each morning.
- Plan ahead. Making a plan increases your chances of doing something. For example, think about how to include extra walking into your day. You could also plan what meals you want to cook for the week ahead.
- Buddy up. Telling your friends and family can help you stick to your goals. You could decide to make a change with someone so you can give each other support.
- Be prepared. Think about what could get in the way of you making a change. For example, make sure you wear comfortable shoes so you’re more likely to walk.
- Track your progress. Make a note of how you’re getting on to help make your changes stick. You could use your phone, a calendar or a notebook by your bed.
- Be realistic and stick with it. The sooner you build changes into your life, the quicker you’ll start losing weight. But realistically, it can be difficult to make lots of changes all at once. Try starting with one or two until you feel confident enough to add in another.
How can I help my children keep their weight healthy?
One of the most important ways to encourage your children to lead a healthy lifestyle is to set a good example yourself. Try to get the whole family involved in healthy living.
Plan the day around healthy family meals and do activities together that everyone enjoys like walking in the park, cycling or kicking a ball around.
Keep a healthier selection of food at home. Check out our healthy shopping tips below to help you do this.
The Change4Life website has lots of good ideas of healthy food and activities to keep your children a healthy weight.
Healthy shopping tips
Shopping smarter is a great way to help you and your family be healthier. Here are our top tips:
- Plan your meals and write a list. Spend a bit of time each week to plan your meals and write a shopping list. If you plan to buy more healthy foods, it can make it easier to avoid unhealthy impulse buys.
- Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach. If you’re hungry you can be more tempted to put extra snacks in your basket. Shop after a meal if you can or have a healthy snack (such as fruit) on the way to the shops.
- Buy more fruit, veg, wholegrains and pulses. Fruit, vegetables, wholegrains (such as brown bread and oats) and pulses (such as beans and lentils) are great healthy foods. Lots of them are high in fibre. They can make you feel fuller for longer on fewer calories. And the more your basket is filled up with these foods, the less room there is for the less healthy ones.
- Check the labels. Check how much fat, sugar and salt is in your food by reading the food labels Try and pick options that are lower in fat, sugar and salt. You can even download a label reading app such as FoodSwitch or Change4Life Food Scanner. If you’re in a hurry, look for red, amber and green colours on food labels. Usually, the more green you see on the label, the healthier it is.
The 10 Top Tips For a Healthy Weight programme was developed by Cancer Research UK and the organisation Weight Concern.
Beeken, R. J. et al. A brief intervention for weight control based on habit-formation theory delivered through primary care: Results from a randomised controlled trial. Int. J. Obes. 41, 246–254 (2017).
Lally, P. & Gardner, B. Promoting habit formation. Health Psychology Review 7, S137–S158 (2013).
Lally, P., Chipperfield, A. & Wardle, J. Healthy habits: Efficacy of simple advice on weight control based on a habit-formation model. Int. J. Obes. 32, 700–707 (2008). Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18071344