Are there proven behaviors that support a healthy body weight?

Many overweight and obese Americans continue to struggle to control their weight as a result of calorie overconsumption and sedentary lifestyles.

Preventing weight gain and maintaining a healthy body weight may seem like a constant juggling act for a majority of American adults. It is true that it takes a lifelong commitment to balance your calorie intake with the calories you expend in order to manage your weight. Embracing the word commitment as a positive force to propel you towards success is very important. Let’s look at a six behaviors included in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 that you can adopt that will assist you in your quest for achieving an appropriate body weight through calorie balance.

1. Understand the actual amount of calories you eat each day. Until you have a true understanding of the amount of daily calories you are actually eating, it is just a guessing game and likely a challenge to maintain your weight. Carefully compare your current daily calories with your recommended daily calories based on your age, gender and physical activity level. Focus yourself on establishing a healthy eating plan that includes a variety of foods from all the food groups, but stays within your recommended calorie intake.

2. Use the nutrition facts on the foods you eat to carefully examine your daily food intake. It is too easy to over-consume calories if you are not monitoring all the foods and beverages you consume. Find a simple method to keep track of your calories, along with the number of minutes each day you are being physical active.

3. Eating out requires a plan. Choose smaller portions and look for low-calorie foods when eating at a restaurant. Portion sizes are notoriously large at fast-food establishments and sit-down restaurants. To stay within your calorie balance watch carefully the amount of calories you consume when away from home, educate yourself with different menus and nutritional information that can be found on-line to stick to your healthier eating plan.

4. Your best tool is preparing, serving and eating smaller portions at every meal. When larger portions are available it is too easy to consume extra calories which sabotage your calorie balance goals. Smaller portions are a key for weight loss and maintenance.

5. Breakfast is a must and it should include nutrient-dense foods. This important meal helps to jump-start your metabolism and it has been found to contribute to weight loss and weight maintenance.

6. Television and computer time should be kept in check to promote a more physically active lifestyle. Avoid mindless eating when sitting still in front of a screen. This will help prevent overeating. Limit your screen time to less than two hours each day.

These six personal behaviors are not affected by genetics or your environment. They represent principles that have been shown to be effective for others in their quest for weight loss or weight management. At every stage of life, attention and awareness are needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle and positive behaviors. Consider for yourself if adopting one or more of these behaviors might be useful to reach your health goals. Michigan State University Extension offers weight management and nutrition programs to help educate individuals and families about healthy, everyday habits.


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