30 September 2005

Five weight loss tips

Struggling to lose weight? Join millions of people around the world who are battling those extra kilos. Maybe these five tips will spur you on.

Struggling to lose weight? Join millions of people around the world who are battling those extra kilos. Maybe these five tips will spur you on.

Tip 1: Big portions make you fat
An oversized meal leads to an oversized body. Therefore, take care when choosing the size of your meal portions. Research has shown that people tend to overeat by more than 40% when they are served larger portions of food.

Take action: The portion of fish on your plate should be the size of a checkbook, the helping of vegetables should be the size of a tennis ball, the potato should be no bigger than a computer mouse and the fruit you have for dessert should be able to fit into a tea cup.

Tip 2: Heart health = waist size
Abdominal fat and waist circumference are major risk factors for heart disease, experts say. In Africa, the average high-risk size is 80cm for women, and 94cm for men. Do you fall into this danger zone?

Take action:
Follow these steps to measure your waist circumference: take off your shirt and loosen your belt; position the tape mid-way between the top of your hip bone, and the bottom of your rib cage; when taking your measurement, you should be breathing normally in order for your abdomen to expand and contract; record the measurement.

Consult your doctor if your waist size is within the high-risk zone, and ask about the possible risk of developing heart problems.

Tip 3: Getting the kids off the couch
When it comes to health, regular exercise is absolutely essential – and that goes for children and teens too. So how can you get your kids off the couch and onto the sports field?

Take action:
Be active with your children – take family walks and bike rides; encourage your children to try different sports and activities – they may find one they really enjoy; contact your friends who have children, and bring your youngsters together on a regular basis – children who are alone or stay at home are more likely to be sedentary; scout out parks and recreation facilities in your area to see if they have hiking trails, bike paths and places to go swimming or canoeing.

Tip 4: Water for weight loss
Want to get in shape for summer? Weight control begins with proper hydration, since water attenuates the appetite stimuli and helps to reduce fat deposits, according to the World Health Organisation.

Take action:
Listen to your "thirst signal" and drink water throughout the day – especially during mealtimes; for a bit of variation, drink rooibos tea – either iced or hot, but without the added sugar; drink cold water, because it is absorbed more quickly by the body and can burn more kilojoules; don't drink coffee when you feel tired – one of the first signs of dehydration is tiredness and the caffeine in coffee will only act as a diuretic, making the situation worse.

Tip 5: Indulging without bulging
You're watching that waistline and those calories, but you're eating out tonight for a friend's birthday party. That does not necessarily mean that you have to undo all the good work you've been doing for the last few weeks.

Take action:
Ask the restaurant to serve margarine rather than butter with the meal and to use fat free milk when preparing your meal; ask the chef to trim all visible fat from poultry or meat; request that gravy, sauces and salad dressing be served on the side; select foods that are steamed, grilled, baked, roasted or lightly stir-fried; order a garden fresh salad.



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