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Weight Loss Guidelines

Change eating behaviors

Manage your weight by replacing negative eating behaviors and patterns with positive ones.

  • Keep a food diary. Write down when, where and what you ate. Be honest, and stick with it. You’ll get a clear picture of your intake and be able to identify situations that lead to problem eating.
  • Make eating a pleasure. Instead of munching on the run, sit down in a dining area and eat slowly. Taste and enjoy your food.
  • Find alternative activities to replace eating when you’re bored, depressed or lonely. You’ll have fun and get a sense of control over food.

Avoid crash diets

Crash diets promise immediate results, but most give little attention to nutrition, which can be dangerous to your health.

When you diet, lean muscle is used for energy; that muscle is replaced with fat tissue after you return to your original eating patterns, which can mean significant increases in weight and fat percentages.


Exercise is very important because it increases muscle tone and decreases body fat.

Exercise doesn't have to mean exhaustive workouts or expensive equipment; brisk walking in a good pair of shoes will do just fine.

Exercise can also:

  • help you feel better about your body;
  • reduce your appetite;
  • aid in digestion and elimination;
  • promote more restful sleep;
  • reduce boredom;
  • lessen tension;
  • lift your spirits; and
  • provide free fun and entertainment.

Exercise for weight loss should be 40 minutes or more, four to five times a week. Choosing an enjoyable activity helps you stick with your plan, which can keep your lost weight from returning.

Learn about food

Complex carbohydrates, like those in whole grain breads and cereals, rice, potatoes, noodles or popcorn; and natural sugars from fruits and vegetables offer fiber, vitamins and minerals with less than half the calories of fats such as butter, mayonnaise, salad dressing or frying oils. Fiber from whole grains, vegetables and raw fruits gives a sense of fullness and should be included daily.

Eat more complex carbohydrates and naturally-occurring sugars, and less fat and refined sugar (like table sugar, honey, molasses, syrups or candy). Remember that some protein sources, like cheese, red meat, poultry with skin, tuna with mayonnaise, cold cuts and fried fish, can be high in fat.

Allow yourself smaller amounts of high-calorie foods and drinks, or have then less frequently. Alcohol is high-calorie and has no nutrients.

A sample day...

This sample meal plan isn't a diet, and you may need more or less food. Talk with a UHS nutritionist to create a plan just for you.


• Whole grain cereal with skim or 1% milk, sliced bananas, raisins or fresh fruit;

• Four ounces fruit juice; and

• Whole grain toast, English muffin, or bagel with jam or light cream cheese.


• Minestrone, split pea or lentil soup;

• Sliced turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with mustard and light mayonnaise, red leaf lettuce, tomato, sliced cucumber or green pepper;

• Carrot sticks;

• Eight-ounce glass skim or 1% milk; and

• Fresh fruit.


• Fish or chicken (without skin) broiled, baked or poached with lemon, brushed with olive oil, moistened with white wine or low-sodium bouillon and other seasonings;

• Baked potato with a tablespoon low-fat sour cream or yogurt blended with chives;

• Steamed vegetables; and

• Whole grain bread.


A between-meal snack can help reduce overeating at meals. Try:

• Vanilla nonfat yogurt;

• Fresh fruit;

• 1% or skim milk and two to three cookies or graham crackers;

• Bran muffin; or

• Two rice cakes with mustard (for a salty/crunchy taste) or jam (for a sweet craving).

For more information

UHS’ nutrition professionals can get you started toward your weight loss goals. For more information and an appointment, call (413) 577-5101.