Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
Managing your weight doesn't have to mean altering your life dramatically. Take small steps, aim modestly and realistically, and then build from there. A small, steady weight loss of ½ to 1 Kg (one or two pounds) a week is much easier to attain and healthier for your heart than a larger drop. Research also shows that you'll be much more likely to keep it off.
What to eat
- Add vegetables and fruit to your meals and snacks, aiming for 4 to 10 servings a day, as recommended by Canada's Food Guide.
- Switch to whole-grain breads and cereals whenever possible to help you feel full.
- Choose protein from a variety of food sources such as beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, lower-fat dairy and dairy alternatives, lean meats, poultry and fish.
- Choose a wide variety of healthy foods such as colourful red peppers and dark green leafy lettuce, , whole-grain bread, low-fat milk extra-lean meat, legumes and nuts (in moderation), to nourish your body with essential nutrients.
- Read the Nutrition Facts table on all food labels to assess the amount of calories, saturated fats, trans-fats, sugar and salt a product may contain. Also look at the Nutrition Fact table for the inclusion of healthy nutrients such as protein, fibre, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium.
- Avoid highly processed foods which are a major source of saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and sodium. Highly processed foods have many ingredients, are usually in a package and need little preparation. These foods include:
- Processed meats (eg. Hot dogs, burgers, deli meats)
- Fried foods (eg. French fries, onion rings)
- Frozen meals (eg. pizza, pasta side dishes)
- Snack foods (eg. chips, crackers, donuts, cookies).
What to drink
- Drink lots of water throughout the day.
- Choose plain low-fat milk (skim, 1%).
- Avoid pop, sugary drinks and alcohol.
How much to eat
- Make portions a reasonable size – avoid supersized portions and second helpings.
- Use smaller plates, bowls and cups.
- Fill up half of your plate with vegetables, then a quarter with whole grains, and the last quarter with meat or alternatives.
When to eat
- Eat three meals and two healthy snacks a day, at regularly spaced intervals.
- Make sure you eat breakfast. People who eat breakfast tend to maintain a healthy weight.
How to eat
- Eat slowly, enjoying the flavours and textures.
- Make mealtime a social activity with family and friends, which may prevent bingeing.
- Avoid unconscious eating at your desk, in your car or in front of the TV.
Be physically active
Adults (18 to 64 years of age) and older adults (65 and older) must get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity per week.
Just 30 minutes a day of moderate activity, such as a brisk walk, most days of the week, not only helps you lose weight, but is also a key factor in keeping it off over the long term.
Canada’s Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that adults 18 to 65 and older get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. Try using a pedometer to motivate you to be active every day by tracking your steps.
The Healthy Weight Action Plan
Get started on your personal weight loss goals today with the MY Heart&Stroke Healthy Weight Action Plan, in print or online. The Heart and Stroke Healthy Weight Action Plan is a 12-week step-by-step program that will support you in achieving healthy habits and a healthy weight – for life.
Last reviewed: January 2015.