Achieving a healthy weight
Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight benefits our physical and mental health.
Busy lifestyles, food and drink adverts, how much money we have, the weather, our friends, and all sorts of other factors influence how much we eat and how much we exercise.
Finding the right balance between how much, how often and what we eat, and finding activities we enjoy and can do regularly is important.
Find out how you and your family can:
- Check if you’re a healthy weight
- Eat more healthily
- Be more active
- Find support to lose weight
Havering’s Prevention of Obesity Strategy aims to make it easier for residents to eat healthily and be more active. The approach taken in the strategy is summarised below, and the full the full Prevention of Obesity Strategy can be found here.
How do I know if I’m a healthy weight?
Checking your Body Mass Index helps you to know whether you’re a healthy weight for your height. You can check your BMI yourself using the NHS healthy weight calculator.
Children’s height and weight is routinely measured at school in Reception and Year 6 as part of the National Child Measurement Programme.
For Adults aged 40-74, GPs can provide a free Health Check which includes measuring your BMI.
If you find you’re underweight, information is available on NHS Choices for different age groups, and you’re advised to see your GP:
- Children aged 2-5
- Children aged 6-11
- Teenage girls
- Teenage boys
- Underweight adults
- Underweight over 60's
If you find your BMI is higher than it should be, to give yourself the best chance of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, it is recommended that you:
- Understand and follow a healthy eating plan
- Gradually build up your levels of physical activity
- Understand why you want to achieve a healthy weight and set a S.M.A.R.T. goal that works for you and your lifestyle. The NHS weight loss plan explains goal-setting
- Find a support network, as this greatly improves your chances of success.
What can I do to eat more healthily?
There is so much information available on diets and healthy eating that it can sometimes be difficult to know what advice to follow. The most effective approach is to eat a healthy, balanced diet with the right amount of calories for how active you are.
Eat a balanced diet
Eating a wide range of foods ensures your body is getting all the nutrients it needs. You can do this by:
- Basing your meals on starchy carbohydrates
- Eating lots of fruit and veg
- Eating more fish – including a portion of oily fish
- Cutting down on saturated fat and sugar
- Eating less salt – no more than 6g a day for adults
- Getting active
- Not getting thirsty
- Not skipping breakfast
The Eatwell Guide helps us to understand what a healthy, balanced diet looks like, showing how much of what we eat should come from each food group. You don’t need to achieve this balance with every meal, but should try to get the balance right over a day or week.
Reduce your sugar, saturated fat and salt intake
One of the common imbalances in our diet is the large amount of sugar, saturated fat and salt we consume. By downloading the Change4Life Be Food Smart app you can scan the barcodes of products you commonly eat and drink to find out how much of these they contain.
Healthy eating throughout life
Eating and drinking healthily is important even before birth. Eating healthily during pregnancy has benefits for both mother and child. You can sign up for Start4Life emails which provide information for parents of children up to the age of four years.
Locally, Collier Row Children’s Centre and St Kilda Children’s Centre both run Infant Feeding Cafés and can provide advice on other support groups in the borough. Families eligible for the Early Help Service can also get support with weaning and healthy eating.
Pregnant women and children under four years old may be eligible for free fruit, vegetables, milk and vitamins via the Healthy Start Scheme. You can apply online for the Healthy Start Scheme or by calling 0845 607 6823.
Growing and cooking food, and at the same time learning more about where your food comes from, can inspire you and your family to enjoy healthy meals and snacks. In Havering you can visit and volunteer at Bedfords Park Walled Garden and children can take part in their Grow>Cook>Eat holiday programmes. If you’re keen to grow your own food, you might want to apply for an allotment. Parents and grandparents with children aged 5-11 can enrol on a Family Cookery Course at Havering Adult College.
What can I do to be more active?
The amount of type of activity you should aim to do varies according to your age:
Walking or cycling to work or school, or simply getting off the bus a stop early or parking a bit further away from your destination, can all help you to fit in your recommended daily physical activity.
Setting yourself a goal will help motivate you to build more activity into your lifestyle. The Couch to 5K app is a great way to get started and there are lots of other tips for beginners plus fitness apps and trackers available online.
Exercise with friends
Doing activities with other people can make them more enjoyable and inspire you to stay active. There are lots of sport and fitness activities available locally, and the Havering Active website provides information about where you can get active in the borough.
If you’re a parent or young person, you might be interested in activities for young people including school holiday activities.
Where can I get more support to lose weight?
There are lots of free resources to help families to ‘Eat Well, Move More and Live Longer’, including ideas, recipes and games, available through Change4Life. There is also specific advice for parents of overweight children.
The ‘Family Food, Fitness and Fun!’ course offered by Havering Adult College is fantastic opportunity for your family to have fun and learn about healthy living at the same time.
You could also join a local weight loss support group. Some of these groups offer free membership to 11-15 year olds provided they have consent of a GP or other appropriate health professional and attend with a paying family member who has main responsibility for their meals/ eating habits at home.