Maintaining a healthy weight
Maintaining the correct weight for your height is a key part of ensuring you reduce your risk of breast cancer. There are many reasons why you might put on weight. Inherited genes, lifestyle, and what you eat can all play a part. If you’re not sure about whether you are a healthy weight you can find out by calculating your Body Mass Index.
Keeping a healthy weight can sometimes be easier said than done but try to only eat as much as you need – so you don’t gain excess weight.
Here are some simple ways you can make healthy eating a daily habit, to help you lose those extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight in the long term.
Variety and portion sizes
The amount you eat is just as important as what you eat.
Your age, sex, height, and activity levels all play a part in determining what portion size you should be eating. Judging what size of the portion you should eat is key, and your own hand can serve as a simple measuring aid.
Fruit and vegetables
- 5 or more portions per day (at least three portions of vegetables, two portions of fruit)
- One portion of fruit can be classed as one whole fruit, such as an apple, a banana, a pear, or an orange.
- One portion of vegetables can be classed as two large broccoli spears (or eight small florets), or four heaped serving spoons of cooked kale, spinach, spring greens, or green beans.
- 3-4 portions per day
- One portion (lighter meals) can be classed as six small cooked new potatoes, about one and a half handfuls of porridge (dry weight); two slices of medium-sliced wholemeal bread.
- One portion (main meals) can be classed as two handfuls of plain, dried wholemeal pasta; two handfuls of wholemeal, dried rice; one large wholemeal bread roll.
Protein (beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat, and others)
- 2-3 portions per day
- One portion (lighter meals) can be classed as two eggs, or 80g of tofu, or about six tablespoons of lentils, beans, or other pulses.
- One portion (main meal) can be classed as about half the size of your hand of raw salmon fillet or raw mackerel fillet.
Dairy and alternatives
- 2-3 portions per day
- One portion can be classed as one glass of milk (semi-skimmed) or unsweetened plant-based milk, or about 4 tablespoons of plain yoghurt (low fat), or about 3 tablespoons of cottage cheese.
The British Nutrition Foundation’s portion guide is a useful guide.
Tip – the hand should only serve as a general portion guide. You may need bigger or smaller portions depending on how tall or active you are.
Avoid hidden calories
Watch the hidden calories, especially in the food you don’t cook yourself
- Cook your own food if possible – then you know what’s in it. You can decide for yourself which ingredients you use, where they come from, and how much you cook.
- Check ingredients lists – in takeaways, on the menus, and in packets and avoid the nasties.
- Try starting each meal with a salad – A good trick is to start each main meal with a salad, so you know you’ve had some veg, and you’ve filled up with important nutrients, which may help you eat less afterwards.
- Boil and steam, rather than fry – And choose something without a crunchy layer as it’s likely to contain plenty of calories hidden inside.