Achieving Healthy Weight Loss

This advice is for people who are generally well, with a good appetite. If you have been given special dietary advice concerning a health issue, you should follow that advice.

Achieving a healthy weight

Being a healthy weight is an important part of keeping well. This guide provides some hints and tips on how to achieve healthy weight loss. It is still really important to eat regularly. Even if you are aiming to lose weight. A variety of nutritious foods is also important. We can tailor your meal service to help you achieve your weight loss goals.

How do I know if I am overweight?
Why is it important?
What does a healthy diet look like?
HILS healthy hints
Small swaps can make a big difference
How can HILS help?
Physical activity

How do I know if I am overweight?

To check if your weight is within the healthy range, use the Body Mass Index (BMI) chart.

Why is it important?

Does being overweight matter that much?

Yes. It can increase the risk of developing:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Some types of cancer

The good news? If you are overweight, losing just 5-10% of your body weight and keeping it off will have a positive effect on your health.

What about calories?

We refer to calories (kcals) when we are talking about how much energy we can get from food and drinks. As we get older, we need fewer calories. On average, men aged 75+ should have around 2,100 calories a day. Whilst women aged 75+ should aim for around 1,810 calories a day. The key to maintaining a healthy weight is to eat the right number of calories for how active you are. This is so that the energy you consume is roughly the same as the energy you use.

No matter how much you weigh, if you are losing weight unintentionally, let your GP know straight away. This can be a sign of being malnourished. Reducing your calorie intake by up to 500 calories per day should result in gradual weight loss.

What does a healthy diet look like?

If you want to lose weight, you should be aiming for a balance:

  • Base your meals on starchy foods; not only are they a good source of fibre and B vitamins, they help to keep us feeling full.
  • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables; at least five a day - another great source of fibre and vitamins.
  • Cut down on foods high in saturated fat and sugar; these are high in calories.
  • Get more active; burn calories, lose weight, and feel better!

HILS healthy hints

  • Chew your food well and wait a little while after meals before deciding if you need more.
  • Be careful with your portions. For example, a portion of pasta or rice should be roughly the size of your fist.
  • Our sense of hunger can get confused with thirst. Have a refreshing drink before deciding whether you feel hungry. Aim to drink 6-8 cups of fluid each day.
  • Eat regular meals. Depriving yourself and skipping meals can make you feel tired and weak. You might also be missing out on essential nutrients.
  • If you have a tendency to snack, think of some tasty filling and healthy options. A couple of crackers with light cream cheese is a good choice.
  • Labels. Read them well to help you choose healthy options. Look for the number of kcals (calories). Be wary of ‘low fat’ or ‘lighter’ products that contain more sugar instead.

Did you know?

There are almost exactly the same number of calories in a ‘light’ digestive biscuit than in the original version.

Small swaps can make a big difference

  • Making a sandwich with lower-fat spread rather than butter can save up to 100 calories
  • Enjoy drinking fruit squash? Opt for a ‘no added sugar’ version and, for every two glasses, you will save around 90 calories
  • Swapping a serving of mayonnaise for the light version will save you around 120 calories
  • Two malted milk biscuits rather than two milk chocolate digestives saves around 80 calories

How can HILS help?

Our meals can form a useful part of a calorie-restricted diet. Our lowest calorie dessert options include tempting mousses and delicious hot puddings. Opting for those marked with a <15g more often can help you to cut down on calories and sugar over time.

Call your local Support Team for menus and friendly advice. They can also offer information about our breakfast and tea services. Both tea and a breakfast for the following day can be delivered to you at the same time as your lunch meal. We can also provide nutrition information on our tea and breakfast services. This can help you make the best choices throughout the day.

Top tip:

Avoid choosing the meals marked with a * on our menus. These dishes are higher in calories. Contact us for information on the calorie content of our meals.

Physical activity – how much should I be doing?

It is recommended you should do 150 minutes (2½ hours) of moderate activity each week. This is if you are generally well and have no limiting health conditions.

Top tip:

Exercise can easily fit into everyday life as even 10 minute sessions count. Something is better than nothing, so don’t be discouraged if you aren’t able to do much to begin with. Start slowly and you will soon notice a difference.

Moderate intensity activities should cause you to:

  • get warmer
  • breathe harder
  • make your heart beat faster

But you should still be able to carry on a conversation.

If you haven’t been very active for a while, aim to spend less time sitting still for long periods. You could do this by:

  • Taking regular walk breaks
  • Doing gentle seated exercises whilst watching the TV.

Even household jobs can count, such as;

  • vacuuming
  • making beds
  • mopping
  • tidying
  • gardening

Weight bearing activities can help to strengthen muscles. For example, climbing stairs and carrying shopping. Try to include activities like these on two or more days a week.

Try to identify enjoyable activities that suit you. This could be walking, dancing, or gentle chair-based exercise classes. These activities (and many more) are available for older people in Hertfordshire. Just call HertsHelp on 0300 123 4044 to find out what’s on in your local area.

What are the benefits of physical activity?

  • It can help us feel good
  • We can learn something new and meet new people
  • It’s great for keeping us mobile for everyday activities
  • Being active helps us burn calories and lose weight
  • It helps us to stay steady and prevent falls

The NHS provides some physical activity guidelines for older adults.

Consider trying our Active Ageing programme, which provides personalised exercise support for older people living in the community.

Further information and links:

For more sitting, flexibility and balance exercises, contact us or visit:

Check with your GP if you have any health conditions that may limit your activity. You should do this before changing your routine. Try to be as physically active as your ability and condition allows.

This resource has been compiled using available current evidence and has been approved by a team of dietitians and nutritionists. The information is for general use and should not replace individual tailored advice given by a healthcare professional.

For further information, please contact your local Support Team or contact our Nutrition & Wellbeing Team directly here.

If you are a health or social care professional and require leaflets for your team or clients, then please contact us


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