Using the Body’s Natural
Weight Control Mechanisms
1. Eat foods high in dietary fiber.
The body was made to eat high-fiber
foods. Researchers found those who
gained the least weight over the
10-year study ate a lot of highfiber foods.
4Examples include salads, soups,
fresh fruit, vegetables, and
whole-grain breads and cereals.
2. Choose low-glycemic meals.
People who eat low-glycemic meals don’t get as
hungry so soon and eat less throughout the day.
4Examples of low-glycemic foods include legumes, soy,
veggies, most fresh fruit, healthy proteins, and whole
grains not finely ground (such as steel-cut oats vs.
instant oats).
6 Limit refined foods, white breads, white rice, potatoes,
soda pop, candy, baked goods, sugar, and sweets.
3. Eat low-calorie density foods.
Research shows that people naturally
eat fewer calories when they are
served lower-calorie density foods
(foods high in volume, water, and
weight, but low in calories).
4Examples of low-calorie density foods include apples,
oranges, fresh or steamed veggies, soup, skim milk,
low-fat cottage cheese, and egg replacer.
6 Limit meats, cheese, butter, cream, ice cream,
margarine, soft drinks, sweets, desserts, snack foods
such as chips, cookies, pastry, and fried foods.
4. Eat low-calorie foods first.
Eat fresh fruit, salad, or soup at the beginning of a
meal to reduce appetite. Research shows that doing
this naturally results in eating fewer calories for the
whole meal – without trying.
5. Don’t eat and watch TV at the same time.
People quickly learn to associate eating in front of the
TV with food. Then whenever they watch TV they want
to eat. The same principle applies to snacks at movies.
6. Eat a good breakfast daily.
People who skip breakfast weigh more than those
who don’t. A good breakfast doesn’t have to be
a large meal. Here’s a formula for a healthy
breakfast: fresh fruit (orange), whole grain
(oats or whole-wheat toast), milk or soymilk,
healthy fat (almonds), healthy protein (tofu or
scrambled Egg Beaters).
7. Replace poor habits with positive habits:
4 Eat
regular, well-balanced meals at regular times
– don’t snack between meals. Skipping meals leads to
overeating later.
4Eat primarily the whole food
rather than juice – eat
an orange in place of
orange juice. Avoid
sugary drinks and
limit fruit drinks.
4Eat warm, satisfying meals before 7 p.m., brush your
teeth, and eat no more till morning.
4Learn new rewards. Rather than over-indulging on
“comfort foods” when you feel upset or sad, take a
walk, visit with a friend, or soak in a hot tub..
4When you start to feel full, stop eating. It’s OK to
leave food on your plate. It’s better for food to go to
waste than to your waist!
8. Eat more slowly.
Give your body time to send signals to the brain
(hormones produced by the gut) that
you’ve eaten enough.
Visit with your family.
Make mealtime an
enjoyable, social event,
not just a time to eat
as much as you can as
quickly as you can.
© 2006 Wellsource, Inc. All rights reserved. Don Hall, DrPH, CHES
9. Limit portion sizes.
Food portion sizes are getting bigger and so are
people. Measure portions to get a better idea of
standard serving sizes:
Fruit – 1 small orange, apple, peach, banana, 1 C
fresh fruit, ½ C cooked, 6 oz. juice
Vegetables – 1 C raw, ½ C cooked, 6 oz. juice
l Grains – 1 small slice bread, 1 small
pancake, 2" muffin, ½ C
cooked cereal, ⅔ C readyto-eat cereal, ½ C rice,
pasta, or cooked cereal
Dairy – 1 C low-fat milk or yogurt, ½ C cottage
Healthy Fats – 1 t. soft tub margarine, 1 T. low-fat
salad dressing, 1 t. oil, 5 olives, ¼ avocado
Plant Proteins – ½ C cooked beans, 1 veggie
burger, ½ C tofu, 1 oz. nuts, 1½ T. nut butter
Meats – 2 oz. red meats, fish, poultry
using smaller plates – it helps the portion sizes
look bigger. Be careful of seconds. Ask yourself if you
are really hungry and need more or if it is a habit to
take more.
10. Eat most meals at home.
The more you eat out, the more
weight you are likely to gain. Limit
eating out, especially at “All you
can eat buffets” and at fast food
restaurants. When you do eat out,
share an entrée or take half of it
home for another meal.
People who cut sleep short are more likely to gain
weight than people who get at least 7-8 hours of sleep
most nights. Staying up late invites snacking and
people often eat to help them stay awake.
13. Weigh yourself daily.
Research shows that people who weigh daily are less
likely to gain weight over the next 10 years compared to
people who seldom weigh. Write your weight on your
calendar. Weighing and recording your weight helps
focus on small changes and taking action when needed.
14. Join a formal weight-loss plan.
cheese, 1 slice (oz.) of low-fat cheese
11. Get adequate sleep daily.
If you are trying to lose weight, you will be more
successful if you follow a credible plan, learn to eat
more healthfully, be more active, and are accountable
to someone for your behavior. Join a support group.
4Follow an eating plan based on calories, servings, or
points per day to monitor your intake. Writing down
what you eat and tracking points
helps you naturally eat less.
4Set a realistic goal of ½ to
1 pound of weight loss per week.
4Your goal is not to “diet” but
to develop a healthy living
approach you can maintain the
rest of your life.
15. Maintain peace of mind and heart.
Ask for a
doggy bag!
12. Be physically active daily.
Inactivity is one of the primary causes of obesity.
Regular activity – especially 60-90 minutes daily – is
one of the best predictors of who will maintain weight
loss. Exercise helps maintain weight by burning up
excess calories, improving mood, and mobilizing fat
stores (after 30 minutes of exercise).
Do weight training 3 times a week. Your lean weight increases the number of calories you burn all day, even
at night when you sleep. The chart at the right shows
how exercise increases metabolism and calories burned.
*MET stands for of multiples of resting metabolism. For example,
walking 4 mph burns 4.3 times as many calories per minute as sitting
watching TV or playing a video game.
High stress levels, worry, and discouragement,
often contribute to weight gain. Balance stress with
relaxation, recreation, and rest. Plan quiet times daily
to renew mind and spirit – meditate, pray, bask in
nature’s beauty, and contemplate inspirational quotes
and writings. n
Sitting quietly
1 MET*
Canoeing, kayaking
3+ METs
Dancing to music
3+ METs
Active table tennis
4+ METs
4-7+ METs
Walking 4 mph (15 min./mile)
4.3 METs
Swimming laps
4-8 METs
Skating, roller, in-line, ice
5+ METs
Backpacking in mountains
5-11 METs
Cross country skiing
6-12 METs
Bicycling 10+ mph
7+ METs
Running 10 min./mile
10.2 METs
Sources: NIH. The Practical Guide: Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. NIH website. 2006.;
American College of Sports Medicine. Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 7th edition. 2006.; Wellsource. Lifelong Weight
Management Instructor’s Guide. 2005.
© 2006 Wellsource, Inc. All rights reserved. Don Hall, DrPH, CHES
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