Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Five tips for maintaining a healthy weight

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), more than half of all cancer deaths could be prevented by making healthy choices like not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, eating nutritiously and staying physically active.

As January marks the start of new beginnings, here are five tips to help you keep your healthy weight resolutions this year. 

Tip 1: Know your healthy weight

The first step to maintaining a healthy weight is knowing what your healthy weight should be. Everyone is different and the best way to determine your goal weight is by finding out your Body Mass Index (BMI). Your BMI is a numerical score based on the relationship between your height and weight. To reduce cancer risk, most people need to keep their BMI below 25. Use the BMI calculator to find out your BMI and consult with your doctor about the goals you should set to maintain a healthy weight. 

Tip 2: Arm yourself with helpful tools

Once your goals are set, it can be hard to stick to them, so arm yourself with tools that will help keep you on track. Smart phone applications, calorie counters and pedometers are just a few useful tools that you can incorporate into your plan. People who track their daily foods are more likely to maintain a healthy weight.

Tip 3: Small steps equal big results

ACS recommends adults engage in at least 30 minutes (45-60 minutes are preferable) of moderate to vigorous physical activity five or more days a week. Exercise benefits both mental and physical health and research shows that cancer survivors who exercise after diagnosis have fewer recurrences and better clinical outcomes. When exercising, find what works for you. Below are a few suggestions based on interests: 

  • Do you like to exercise alone? Try walking, swimming, or gardening.
  • Do you need a stress-reducing workout? Try yoga or tai chi.
  • Do you want to get involved or meet new people? Try exercise classes or participate in a charity walk.

When you find a workout that works best for you, you're more likely to stick to it.

Tip 4: Eat this, not that

Cancer patients have different dietary needs and may find it harder to eat nutritiously due to symptoms of treatment. When choosing what to eat, think volumetrics, which is the art of choosing food that has fewer calories but fills you up.

Examples of healthy diet choices:

  • Choose whole grains instead of processed (refined) grains and sugars.
  • Eat at least 5 or more servings of vegetables and fruits each day.
    Note: A serving size is about one-half cup.
  • Limit consumption of red meats, especially those high in fat or that are processed.
  • Remember portion size.

Consult with a registered dietitian to develop your individual nutrition goals. 

Tip 5: Keep Going!

Perhaps the most important tip of all is that one bad day (or bad week) doesn't cancel out all of the hard work you've done. So keep going!

For more information on maintaining a healthy weight during or after cancer, visit http://www.massey.vcu.edu/survivorship.html.

Written by: Alaina Schneider

Posted on: January 11, 2013

Category: Prevention & control