Global obesity rates have continued to climb in recent years, despite the best efforts of the medical community. An estimated 13% (or 650 million) of adults are considered to be obese. Those with this condition are often susceptible to cardiovascular and musculoskeletal diseases, as well as different forms of cancer. This makes it essential to prevent excessive weight gain before it is too late. It is important to note, however, that there is a difference between being overweight vs obesity. For instance, if you’re overweight or pre-obese, the risk of mortality doesn’t increase until your body mass index (BMI) hits 27. On the other hand, landing in the category of obesity (those with a BMI of 30 and above) means you’ll have to receive adequate care, as it is an abnormal physiological process associated with many dangerous health conditions.
Preventing and treating weight issues often boil down to small lifestyle changes that can make significant differences. When you’re struggling against the scale, foundational habits — how you eat, move, manage stress, maintain social connections, sleep, and treat alcohol or tobacco — are at the core of better health. It’s never too late to try and implement some of these adjustments to be a healthier you. Here are some good habits to pursue for a healthier body:
Have a healthy diet
Unhealthy diets are one of the main culprits for too much weight gain. Nutrition has become less of a priority for many, as it has simply become easier to order a pizza than to chop up vegetables for a salad. Eating balanced meals jampacked with vitamins and minerals can do a world of good for preventing obesity. Try to have fruit with your breakfast and sliced vegetables with your lunches; even a few nutritious additions to your meals each day go a long way. And you don’t have to restrict yourself entirely, either. You can find healthy alternatives for your favorite treats. For instance, snacking on dark chocolate is excellent since it is filled with antioxidants that improve brain function, provide energy, and decrease appetite. You’ll see the difference eating healthy can bring in no time.
Practice mindful eating
Mindful eating hinges on the idea that you must listen to your body’s needs in terms of food. This means eating when you’re hungry rather than consuming too much or only eating during mealtimes. It would also be best to be mindful of how food affects your body and avoid consuming things that make you feel bad. For example, cutting out sugar from your diet can help you from having energy crashes and bloating — which you may not have realized occurred when you consumed too many sweets. Mindful eating also allows you to balance your mood so you stop using food as a coping mechanism for stress. Though it seems like a simple change, mindful eating (paired with a healthy diet) can do wonders in preventing obesity.c
One study on physical activity in adults found that 74% of respondents that are obese were inactive, with 31% of them falling under the category of “sedentary” in terms of movement. This shows just how important it is to move, as this burns fat and calories and helps your body digest food. Instead of watching TV or scrolling through social media on your phone, you can do cardio exercises such as running or jumping jacks — even if it’s just during commercial breaks. You can also attend a workout class to get some socializing in. Even playing fitness games such as Just Dance or Wii Fit can make the exercise experience more enjoyable. The secret to staying active is finding ways to make it more fun.
Get enough rest
Not giving yourself time to rest and relax can cause obesity. Stress can make hormones in your body fluctuate, increasing appetite and weight retention. Getting insufficient sleep also plays a role since it prevents your body from adequately metabolizing food, promoting weight gain. When they occur together, these preventable hormonal imbalances can be detrimental to your health. Try practicing meditation or simple activities like painting or reading to reduce stress. Limiting screen time can also help your body’s circadian rhythm fall into the natural sleep and wake cycle, leading to better sleep at night. Though it may seem like an irrelevant change, giving yourself time to rest and relax can be the first step to warding off obesity.
Preventing obesity should be a priority for those who want to live healthier lives. By making small but meaningful changes, you can achieve your health goals. Just be sure to take things slowly and not rush into losing weight.