Health Guide

Weight loss tips

What is it?

  • Weighing too much is not good for your health. Being overweight increases your risk of health conditions such as heart problems, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes (deye-ah-BEE-teez), and certain types of cancer. Being overweight can also increase your risk for osteoarthritis (os-tee-oh-ahr-THRI-tis) (joint disease), sleep apnea (AP-nee-ah) (abnormal breathing at night), or other respiratory (RES-pir-ah-tohr-ee) (breathing) problems. Being overweight may also cause a person to feel sad or be treated differently by others.
  • The best way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories and get regular exercise. A calorie (CA-loh-ree) is a unit of energy that your body gets from food. Eating more calories than you need will cause you to gain weight. Try to cut down your calories by 500 calories per day. For example, cut down on one soda (about 150 calories), a small bag of regular potato chips (about 150 calories) and one chocolate bar (about 250 calories). For most people, this change will result in a slow weight loss of about one pound a week. You can burn calories if you get regular exercise. Exercise (for example, walk, swim, or bicycle) for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. You will be more likely to keep weight off if you make lifelong lifestyle changes.
  • Aim for a slow, steady weight loss. Losing even a small amount of weight can lower your risk of health problems. Ask your dietitian (deye-e-TISH-an), nutritionist (noo-TRI-shun-ist), or caregiver about a weight loss goal that is right for you.

What foods can I eat? You can eat a variety of foods and lose weight at the same time. Following a healthy diet can help you to eat fewer calories and stay healthy. You may be able stay at a healthy weight if you make this diet a part of your lifestyle. Below are a few ideas for a healthy diet:

  • Eat whole grain foods more often. A healthy eating plan should contain fiber. Fiber is the part of grains, fruits and vegetables that is not broken down by your body. Whole grain foods are healthy and provide extra fiber in your diet. Some examples of whole grain foods are whole wheat breads and pastas, oatmeal, brown rice and bulgur.
  • Eat a variety of vegetables every day. Eat dark, leafy greens such as spinach, kale, collard greens, and mustard greens. Eat yellow and orange vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squash. Eat these vegetables along with other types of vegetables because they are good sources of vitamins and minerals.
  • Eat a variety of fruits every day. Choose fresh or canned fruit (canned in its own juice or lite syrup) instead of juice. Fruit juice has very little or no fiber.
  • Eat low-fat dairy foods. Drink fat-free (skim) milk or one-percent milk. Eat fat-free yogurt and low-fat cottage cheese. Try low-fat cheeses such as mozzarella or other reduced-fat cheeses.
  • Choose protein foods that are lower in fat. Choose beans or other legumes such as split peas or lentils. Choose fish, turkey, poultry (chicken), or leaner cuts of red meat (for example, beef or pork). Before cooking meat or poultry, cut off any visible fat and remove skin.
  • Use less fats and oils. Try baking foods instead of frying them. Add less fat (margarine, sour cream, regular salad dressing and mayonnaise) to foods. Eat fewer high fat foods. Examples of high fat foods are potato chips, french fries, doughnuts, and cakes.
  • Eat fewer sweets. Limit foods and drinks that are high in sugar. Some examples of sweets are candy, cookies, regular soda, and sweetened drinks.

What liquids can I drink?

  • Drink eight (8-ounce) cups of water every day. Follow your caregiver's advice if you must limit the amount of liquid you drink. Make sure that you have water and other low calorie liquids available all the time.
  • Limit fruit juices to one or two small (four-ounce) glasses per day because they are high in calories.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Alcoholic drinks have extra calories and can make you hungrier than you would have been without them.

What are some other ways that I can eat fewer calories? Below are other ways that you can decrease the amount of calories that you eat each day:

  • Eat smaller portions.
  • Use a small plate with smaller servings.
  • Avoid eating second helpings.
  • When you eat at a restaurant, ask for a "to go" box and place half of your meal in the box before eating. This will help you to limit the amount of food you eat at the restaurant.
  • Order one plate at a restaurant and share it with someone else.
  • Replace high calorie snacks with healthier, low calorie snacks.
  • Choose fresh fruit, vegetables, fat free rice cakes, or air popped popcorn instead of potato chips, nuts, or chocolate.
  • Choose water or calorie-free drinks instead of soda or sweetened drinks.
  • Eat regular meals. Skipping meals can lead to overeating later in the day. Eat a healthy snack in place of a meal if you do not have time to eat regular meals.
  • Do not shop for groceries when you are hungry. This can cause you to buy foods that are not healthy. Take a grocery list of healthy foods and shop after you have eaten.

How do I become more physically active?

  • Check with your caregiver first if you have not been exercising. You may hurt yourself if you start your exercise program with intense (heavy) exercise. Work with your caregiver to find an exercise plan that is right for you.
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes daily on most days of the week. Some examples of exercise include walking, riding a bicycle, dancing, and swimming.
  • Some other ways you can be more active are listed below.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Park farther away from stores and walk.
  • Walk around the mall.
  • Find several types of exercise that you really like and work them into your schedule. Many health clubs have evening and morning hours to help you fit exercise into your day.
  • Meet with an exercise "buddy" who will help you stay active.

What other things should I remember as I try to lose weight?

  • Be aware of situations that may give you the urge to overeat, such as eating while watching television. Find ways to avoid these situations. For example, read a book, go for a walk, or do crafts instead of eating.
  • Meet with a weight loss support group or friends who are also trying to lose weight. Talking with others about weight loss will help you stay excited about your weight loss goals. Other people can give you good feedback on your progress.

Herbs and Supplements:

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.


  • Coleus (Coleus forskolii) has been used for many years, but has not been studied in people.
  • Garcinia (Garcinia cambogia) has been used for many years.
  • Green tea (Camellia sinensis) has been used for many years, but has not been studied for weight loss.


  • 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) may help weight loss and has been studied in people.
  • Chromium (Chromium nicotinate) and an exercise program may help decrease weight and has been studied in people.
  • Glucomannan may help with weight loss and has been studied in people.
  • Pyruvate and an exercise program may help weight loss and has been studied in people.

Complementary Therapies:

  • Acupuncture, with diet and exercise, helps weight loss.
  • A personal "coach" can be a helpful part of your short and long term weight loss program.
  • Hypnosis can help you lose weight.

Other ways of treating your symptoms:

Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.

Talk to your caregiver if:

  • You would like medicine to treat weight loss.
  • Your symptoms have not gone away or improved by these self-help measures.
  • You have questions about what you have read in this document.

Care Agreement:

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


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2. Cangiano C, Ceci F, Cascino A et al: Eating behavior and adherence to dietary prescriptions in obese adult subjects treated with 5-hydroxytryptophan. Am J Clin Nutr 1992a; 56(5):863-867.

3. Grant KE, Chandler RM, Castle AL et al: Chromium and exercise training: effect on obese women. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1997; 29(8):992-998.

4. Johnson DL: Weight loss for women: studies of smokers and nonsmokers using hypnosis and multicomponent treatments with and without overt aversion. Psychol Rep 1997; 80(3 Pt 1):931-933.

5. Kalman D, Colker CM, Wilets I et al: The effects of pyruvate supplementation on body composition in overweight individuals. Nutrition 1999; 15(5):337-340.

6. Richards D & Marley J: Stimulation of auricular acupuncture points in weight loss. Aust Fam Physician 1998; suppl 2:S73-77.

7. Walsh DE, Yaghoubian V & Behforooz A: Effect of glucomannan on obese patients: a clinical study. Int J Obes 1984; 8(4):289-293.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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