Skip to content Skip to footer
Nutrition

How to lose weight safely


Losing weight is a great way to look after your health. So, what are the benefits of losing those extra pounds and how do you make sure you lose weight in a safe and sustainable way?

The pandemic has been hard on all of us – it has also been hard on our waistlines, with many of us gaining weight during the months spent at home. Covid 19 has also highlighted the dangers of obesity, with being overweight considered as a major risk factor of serious outcomes from the virus.

“Obesity is one of the biggest health crises we have in the UK,” says Cheryl Lythgoe, Society Matron at Benenden Health. “Obesity is also affecting younger people – conditions such as Type 2 diabetes used to affect only older people after years of unhealthy eating but are now being seen in children.”

While obesity is measured using the Body Max Index (BMI), it can have its drawbacks warns Cheryl. For example, muscle density can weigh more than fat density, so athletes or fitness fanatics can often have a raised BMI. She advises looking at our waist measurement as an indicator of the fat we hold around our organs and our associated risk factors for diseases.

So, why should you think about losing that extra weight?

  • It’s a great way to look after your health both now and in the future

  • It helps to reduce the risk of life-changing diseases such as heart conditions, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer

  • Being overweight also has implications on your cognitive health – it can be as damaging as drinking excess amounts of alcohol

  • Extra weight puts unnecessary pressure on your joints. After decades, your joints are going to start showing some wear and tear – being overweight can accelerate this process

How do you lose weight in a safe and successful way?

1. Changing habits helps

When you start to diet, you may find you achieve more weight loss in the first few weeks, but then it takes a lot of work to maintain the same rate of weight loss. In my experience, it’s much better to achieve a small and sustained weight loss by chipping away at some of your bad habits, such as:

  • Cut out your two biscuits with your morning coffee

  • Don’t lounge on the sofa after work, – take the dog or kids for a walk instead

  • Check for hidden calories. That ‘healthy’ smoothie you drink every day may be loaded with lots of sugar. Switch out your cappuccino for a black coffee

  • Do more activity: use the stairs at work, park at the far end of the carpark, walk the kids to school, do an online class at home

2. Plan your meals

With our busy lives, knowing what to cook can be the hardest aspect of eating a healthy diet. We’ve all been there at the end of a long day, when all you want to do is reach for the takeaway menu. For inspiration, check out these delicious healthy meal ideas. [link to downloadable recipe cards]

  • Make a shopping list and stick to it – don’t be tempted by unhealthy treats at the supermarket checkout

  • To save time, batch cook some healthy dinner ideas once a week and store in the freezer so you can grab a nutritious meal easily in the evening

  • Don’t forget to watch your portions

  • Try not to skip breakfast. Starting the day with a healthy breakfast [link to breakfast recipe cards] helps to set you up for success for the rest of the day so you’re less likely to get tempted by something a bit naughty by 11am because your stomach is empty

  • Carry healthy snacks with you e.g. a bag of nuts or some of these nutritious treats [link to snack recipe cards] – when hunger strikes, it’s much easier not to reach for the nearest chocolate bar if you have something handy in your bag

3. Get a support network

  • Losing weight can be challenging but help yourself succeed by getting your friends and family on side. You will need their support to keep up the good work and not to slip back into bad habits.

  • Get a WhatsApp group going with your friends so you can encourage each other and celebrate your successes. If you’ve decided to cut down on alcohol and drink lots more water, let everyone know. Being part of a supportive group can help to give you a boost, especially on the harder days!

4. Consult the experts

Benenden Health can help support your weight-loss goals in the following ways:

  • Our 24/7 GP service can offer overarching advice on losing weight in the context of your individual medical history

  • Our 24/7 Mental Health Helpline is there to support you if you have changed your eating habits during periods of stress

  • Nutritional therapy is available as a self-pay option at Benenden Hospital. This personalised approach to nutrition can help you achieve your health and wellbeing goals

  • In some cases, bariatric surgery may be right for you. It can provide a lifechanging boost to your quality and quantity of life as it helps to reduce disease risk factors. However, remember it is major surgery and requires a strict post-operative diet, so you should have a thorough and supportive discussion with your surgeon beforehand. Bariatric surgery is available as a self-pay option at Benenden Hospital or a provider of your choice

5. Be kind to yourself

  • Remember weight isn’t the only thing to measure yourself by – focus on the positive things about yourself

  • Be aware of what you eat if you are a normal or low BMI – it’s about being as healthy as you can be to look after your long-term health

  • Look for success in other ways – how much exercise are you doing, what are your energy levels like, what does your skin look like?

  • Remember any weight loss needs to be sustained so don’t aim too big

Whatever direction you decide to take your weight-loss journey, make sure it’s right for you. Good luck!