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Do you need to lose some weight?

Category: Healthy eating, healthy weight and dieting
Healthy eating, healthy weight and dieting



  • To work out if you are overweight, calculate your ‘Body Mass Index’ (BMI).
  • This compares your weight to your height and tells you if you are under weight, normal weight or overweight and how this affects your health.
  • Use this handy tool from the NHS to work out your BMI.
  • You can also calculate your 'Waist to Hip Ratio' to determine if you are overweight. For more information on this as well as your BMI, please see our factsheet.




  • Write down your reasons and motivations for wanting to lose weight, whether for physical or mental health. These will act as your goals on your journey to losing weight.
  • It may also be useful to write down any things which you feel act as barriers to losing weight. You can then seek help or support to overcome these barriers before starting on your weight loss journey. 




  • Managing your weight successfully means making realistic changes to your lifestyle that you can maintain. Quick fixes like herbal supplements, detox or fad diets don't work as they are usually not something which you can continue with over a long period of time. Check out our factsheet on detox diets from information.




Starting to Lose Weight

  • Aim for 1-2lbs (0.5-1kg) weight loss per week – this is a safe rate of weight loss and you are more likely to keep the weight off than if you lose it more quickly.
  • Write down an action plan with clear goals to follow. For example, this week one of your goals may be to increase your vegetable intake by having salad at lunch and an extra vegetable at dinnertime. Once you have achieved this you can set more goals or build on the ones, which you have already achieved.
  • Get support from others. Get the support that is right for you. For example, it may be asking a friend to go for a walk with you once or twice a week or, asking the person in your house that does the food shopping to buy some low calorie snacks for you.
  • Plan your meals and exercise. Planning helps us to achieve our goals. You may have to do some menu planning to ensure more fruit and vegetables in your diet this week for example. Or, if you are going out for a meal, it may be that you decide beforehand to have two courses instead of three so that you achieve your weight loss goal for the week.    
  • Downloading the Weight-Mate app may help you get started.


Healthy Eating

  • Eat regularly and avoid skipping meals. A healthy breakfast is the key to success – wholegrain toast, porridge or a wholegrain cereal with fruit are all good choices.
  • Become aware of triggers to eating (e.g. boredom eating or habits) and plan around them (e.g. bring some fruit with you to work for a mid-morning snack instead of always relying on biscuits).
  • Eat balanced meals and a wide variety of foods (see the food pyramid as a guide). This means including some high fibre starchy carbohydrate (wholegrain bread, pasta, rice, potato, wholegrain cereal), some lean protein (meat, chicken, fish, eggs) and a large serving of fruit, vegetables or salad at each meal.
  • It’s about how much you eat as well as what you eat! Eating smaller portions will make a difference to you weight. Try using a smaller plate and avoid second helpings. See the food pyramid for further detail on portion sizes
  • Aim for 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables each day. Some tips to meet this include:
    • Try homemade vegetable soup at lunchtime
    •  Include some fruit with your breakfast cereal
    • Try a chicken and vegetable stir-fry in the evening
    •  Bring some fruit to work with you each day – it can be handy to boost energy levels and combat the early morning/mid-afternoon slump!
  • Reduce your fat and sugar intake. Choose low fat dairy products, diet/zero drinks, avoid adding oil or frying foods and try to keep sweets, biscuits and cakes to occasional treats rather than ‘every-day foods’.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day (at least 8 cups) and keep alcohol intake within the recommended limits each week (less than 17 standard drinks for men or less than 11 standard drinks for women).


Physical Activity

Take regular exercise. You should be doing at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or at least 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week.

If you have not reached this level of physical activity, do not worry, slowly build on the amount of activity you do in the day so that it becomes part of your daily routine.

Look for ways to include movement into your day. For example, stand up when talking on the phone instead of sitting down, take the stairs instead of the lift or park further away instead of finding the closest parking space so that you can include a walk in your journey.


Track Your Progress

  • Weigh yourself regularly, such as once a week. This will allow you to see if your action plan and goals are working for you and allow you to adjust them if necessary.
  • Use a food and activity diary to track your progress. People who do this lose more weight as it helps them to stay aware of what they are eating and how much activity they are doing every day.
  • Accept that the occasional slip up is normal and that it is not the end! Don’t make a slip up make you lose sight of your overall goals and the progress you have made, instead learn from it. 


If you would like further advice, or to make an appointment with a dietitian in your area, click here. 



Updated by members of the weight management interest group July 2016.Review date: July 2019.

© 2016 Irish Nutrition and Dietetics Institute, INDI. All rights reserved. May be reproduced in its entirety provided the source is acknowledged. This information is not meant to replace advice from your medical doctor or individual counselling with a dietitian.  It is intended for educational and informational purposes only.

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