Body weight management: A balancing act

Body weight management: A balancing act

A recent national survey found that over 60% of Irish adults (aged 18-64 years) are either overweight or obese. Although a number of factors can influence our weight such as genetics and lifestyle choices, weight gain generally results if the energy we consume is consistently greater than the energy we expend. This can subsequently lead to overweight or obesity, which can have serious health consequences.

Don’t Ditch the Dairy!

Although the 'milk, yogurt and cheese' food group forms part of the Department of Health's dietary guidelines, some people feel that they should avoid or limit their intake in order to lose weight. This is due to a misconception that all dairy products are high in fat. However, you may be surprised to hear that whole ('full-fat') milk typically contains 3.5 % fat; with the low-fat varieties containing even less. There is also a wide range of yogurt and cheese varieties on our supermarket shelves to choose from, with low-fat versions remaining sources of important nutrients such as calcium, protein and B vitamins. As with all foods, serving size is key to consider when managing body weight.

Controlling those Calories!

Some tips include:

  • Avoid fad diets as these are generally extreme and difficult to stick to. Avoid skipping meals and follow a balanced diet to ensure nutrient needs are met.
  • Losing weight too quickly is unhealthy and can result in a loss of muscle as well as fat, which is undesirable. Be patient and aim for an achievable 0.5-1 kg per week.

  • Boil, grill, steam and bake foods as opposed to frying them.
  • Being organised and planning ahead are key. Bring healthy snacks to work or when travelling (e.g. fruit, yogurt, plain nuts) to avoid unhealthier impulse decisions when hungry.

  • Be mindful of portion sizes, particularly when dining out.
  • Be aware that alcohol also provides calories. As examples, a pint of beer contains about 210 calories; while a small glass of wine provides about 85 calories.