A Healthier Eating Plan

To lose weight, most people need to cut down on the number calories (units of energy) that they acquire from food and beverages, as well as increase their physical activity. For a weight loss of one to two pounds per week, daily caloric intake should be reduced by 500 to 1,000 calories. The Athens-Limestone Hospital Wellness Caloric Expenditure Calculator can help you determine your personal caloric intake needs. You can then set your Caloric (Energy) Expenditure goals on Your Wellness Profile, as well as record your daily calories burned.

In general, eating plans containing 1000-1200 calories will help most women safely lose weight. Eating plan between 1200-1600 calories each day are suitable for men and may also be appropriate for women who weigh 165 pounds or more, or who exercise regularly.

If you are on a 1600 calorie diet but do not lose weight, you may want to reduce your diet to 1200 calories. If you are hungry on these diets, you may want to try boosting your calories by 100 to 200 per day. Very low calorie diets of less than 800 calories a day should not be routinely used--they require special monitoring by your doctor.

Reduce your body weight if you are overweight or obese
Maintain a lower body weight over the long term
Prevent further weight gain

Foods in a Healthy Eating Plan
A healthy eating plan gives your body the nutrients it requires every day while staying within your recommended daily calorie level. This eating plan should also lower your risk for heart disease and other conditions like high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol levels.

Foods that can be eaten more often include those that are lower in calories, total fat, saturated and trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium (salt). Examples of these foods include fat-free and low-fat dairy products; lean meat, fish, and poultry; high-fiber foods such as whole grains, breads, and cereals; fruits; and vegetables. Canola or olive oils and soft margarines made from these oils are heart healthy and can be used in moderate amounts. Unsalted nuts can also be built into a healthy diet as long as you watch the amount.

Foods that should be limited include those with higher amounts of saturated and trans fats and cholesterol. These particular fats raise blood cholesterol levels, which increases the risk for heart disease. Saturated fat is found mainly in fresh and processed meats; high-fat dairy products (like cheese, whole milk, cream, butter, and ice cream), lard, and in the coconut and palm oils found in many processed foods. Trans fat is found in foods with partially hydrogenated oils such as many hard margarines and shortening, commercially fried foods, and some bakery goods. Cholesterol is found in eggs, organ meats, and dairy fats.

It is also important to limit foods and beverages with added sugars such as many desserts, canner fruit packed in syrup, fruit drinks, and sweetened beverages (nondiet drinks). Foods and beverages with added sugars will add calories to your diet without giving you needed nutrients.

Click here to read about the food groups.