New Year’s resolution: Weight loss

Tummy trimming tips to help you achieve your New Year's weight loss resolution.

Keep a food diary to increase self-awareness of what you eat. Most of us eat more than we realise. Incidental kilojoules easily sneak into the diet from all-day grazing.

You'll hardly notice the difference but your waistline will. Simple swaps can include:

  • lite mayonnaise instead of standard (see How to choose: Salad dressing for guidance on which one suits you)
  • lean bacon instead of streaky
  • low-fat milk instead of standard

One standard glass (only 100ml) of white wine is 395kJ. That's like eating a pottle of yoghurt, a small banana or a large egg. Worth thinking about next time you're considering your third glass.

We often talk about drinking water so some people have got the impression that other fluids don't count. They do. Try to drink at least eight cups of fluid each day; that includes tea, coffee, water, juice, milk, herbal teas, etc.

The Glycaemic index (GI) measures the rate of digestion and therefore the glycaemic (blood glucose) response to different foods. Lower GI foods are digested more slowly so the blood glucose response is less and lasts longer. This is good for our bodies and we feel full for longer. See What you need to know about the glycaemic index for more information.

Become familiar with label-reading so you can make informed decisions about food. This helps you choose lower-fat and lower-kilojoule alternatives.

Try something 'long' (in time) and 'low' (in intensity). For most people a brisk 30 minute walk is more effective than a 5 minute sprint (and probably more achievable). So get out there and enjoy the summer sun and fresh air.

  1. We eat more when our brain thinks there's more variety to choose from. Serving food on one large platter, rather than several small ones, will tend to make you eat less overall.

  2. Use the same trick to help you eat more of the good stuff: you'll eat more vegetables in a mixed salad full of variety of flavours and textures than you will picking from individual plates of separate vegetables.

  3. Our brains recognise height quicker than width. Drink from tall, thin glasses and you'll drink less than if you drink from short, fat glasses. Make food less accessible. Cover it, wrap it, box it, hide it. Out of sight, out of mind.

The bathroom scales are always going to tip one way or the other at different times, but large movements in weight, up or down, are not normal. Beware of:

  • Weight loss without a change in eating or activity patterns: Weight doesn't simply fall off. Sudden weight loss can be a symptom of an underlying, unrecognised condition, and should be investigated.
  • Rapid weight loss: Even when weight loss is the goal, losing more than 1/2 – 1kg per week is too much. Lean tissue and water is being lost rather than excess fat.
  • Weight gain due to water retention or swelling:  Water retention or swelling can have a myriad of causes but none are undeserving of attention.
  • Weight gain and medication: The contraceptive pill, for example, is a common cause of weight gain, but isn't inevitable. Discuss different brands with your doctor if you are unhappy with any side effects.
First published: Feb 2007

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