How to Control Weight and Lower Your Risk of Health Problems As You Age

Controlling your weight is important to help reduce the risk of health problems as you age. Being overweight may increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Maintaining a healthy weight requires making wise food choices and increasing physical activity. Eating a diet that includes more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean meats can promote weight loss and improved health.

1. Eat a Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy diet is the best way to control your weight and reduce health risks like heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer. The cornerstone of a healthy eating pattern is to choose mostly whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, and whole grains, and limit processed and sugary foods and drinks.

The key is to make gradual changes over time rather than trying fad diets that may have short-term benefits but can be hard to maintain. Choose nutrient-rich foods, such as fresh produce, whole grains, nuts, seeds, low-fat dairy, and fish. Choose healthier cooking methods such as steamed, baked, grilled, or poached instead of fried; and limit added fats. Avoid sugary sodas, candy, and chips. Try adding a variety of healthy snacks to your routine such as carrots and celery with hummus, an apple with string cheese, or yogurt with fruit.

3. Eat Enough

The best way to ensure that you are eating enough is to listen to your body. There are usually physical signs that you need to fuel, like feeling hungry or being irritable. If you ignore these signals, your body will go into starvation protection mode and conserve calories by storing fat and burning muscle for energy. When you feel hunger, eat a variety of nutritious foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meats, and limit foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars, salt (sodium) and cholesterol. You should also drink plenty of water and milk products to meet your daily nutritional needs.

4. Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can impair thinking clearly and affect motor control. It can also cause the body to retain water, leading to bloating.

Being adequately hydrated supports the body’s natural detoxification systems, which remove waste and harmful substances through urination, breathing, perspiration, and bowel movements. It also helps prevent the build-up of excess waste, which can lead to bloating and weight gain.

In addition to drinking water, many foods have a high water content, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Limiting high-sodium and sugary drinks can help promote hydration as well. Water bottles with a built-in timer or setting alarms on your phone can help remind you to drink throughout the day. Some beverages, such as tea and coffee, may be beneficial as long as they are not sweetened with high-sodium ingredients or added sugar.

5. Be Mindful

Practicing mindfulness lowers stress and calms the body and mind. It also promotes healthy eating and exercise.

Mindfulness is an ancient practice that has been used in clinical psychology and psychiatry since the 1970s. It’s been used to treat depression, anxiety and chronic pain.

Being mindful involves being aware of the moment-to-moment manifestation of subjective conscious experience. This includes seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting or touching sensations, as well as thoughts that come and go.

Being mindful while eating helps you learn to distinguish hunger from fullness. It also encourages you to eat slowly and enjoy the taste of your food. Using measuring cups or serving size guides to control portion sizes is another good mindfulness practice. It can help you avoid overestimating portions and overeating.

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