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Healthy eating when trying to lose weight

Find out what a healthy diet looks like when you're trying to lose weight, and see our tips, tricks and advice to help you stick to one.

How to eat healthier meals

It can be tricky to know what to do with your meals if you're trying to lose weight. Here are some quick tips to help.

Veg: go for 2 or more

Aiming for 2 or more portions of veg in a main meal means half your plate.

Protein: prize it!

Always include some protein – like beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat or other types. It helps you stay full.

Carbs: stick to wholegrain

Carbs like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta should make up no more than a third of your meal – and try to have wholegrain versions where you can.

Fish: try twice a week

If you eat fish, try to have 2 portions a week. At least 1 portion should be oily fish like sardines, salmon or mackerel.

Dairy: keep it light and low

Pick lower-fat and lower-sugar options for milk, cheese and yoghurts.

Oils: choose unsaturated

Go for olive, sunflower and rapeseed oil, which have unsaturated fats.

Spreads: be sensible

Choose lower-fat spreads and only eat it in small amounts.

Water: stay hydrated

Drink 6 to 8 cups of fluid a day. Water, tea, coffee, soup... They all count!

Add more fruit and veg

When it comes to fruit and veg, eating 5 portions a day is the minimum you should aim for – but the more you eat the better! They are a good source of fibre, low in calories and great to snack on.

Increase your intake and make it a goal to hit your 5 A Day, every day.

Eat the right portion size

Everywhere we look there are large and extra-large portions of food and drinks – this has left many of us not knowing what a normal portion looks like.

These simple tips can help you stay on top of the amount you eat and gain some portion control.

Scale down when plating up

Try using smaller plates and bowls to help reduce your portion sizes at mealtimes.

Made to measure

When cooking, try measuring ingredients such as oil, butter and ghee using a teaspoon.

Self-serve and skip seconds

Keep an eye on your servings. At family mealtimes, remember to serve out your own portion and say no to seconds.

Spread the veg

Try to make sure you have at least 2 portions of veg as part of your meal. This helps to cover your plate with low-calorie, fibre-rich, filling foods, leaving less room for higher-calorie ingredients.

Make a meal of it

Turn off the TV and avoid other distractions while eating – if you're not focusing on your food, it can be easy to eat too much or too fast.

Weigh your food

Use kitchen scales to weigh your ingredients before you cook. This will help you stick to the suggested serving sizes.

Mealtime inspiration

We have more than 100 tasty, healthy recipes for you and your family.

Whether you're after a better breakfast to kickstart the day, simple ideas to banish boring sandwiches at lunch, or quick and easy mid-week dinners, there's something for everyone.

Keep an eye on your calories

The amount you eat is just as important as what you eat – no matter how healthy your diet is, you can still put on weight if you are eating too much.

Having more calories than your body needs each day can lead to weight gain.

How many calories to have to lose weight

To lose weight, the average person should reduce their daily calorie intake by 600kcal. That means having:

  • 1,900kcal per day for men
  • 1,400kcal per day for women

Download the free NHS Weight Loss Plan

Download the free NHS Weight Loss Plan to help you start healthier eating habits, be more active, and start losing weight.

The plan is broken down into 12 weeks so you can:

  • set weight loss goals
  • use the BMI calculator to customise your plan
  • plan your meals
  • make healthier food choices
  • get more active and burn more calories
  • record your activity and progress

Don't worry, the app makes it easy for you – just take it one week at a time. Let's make "one day" today!

Dietary advice

Better Health cannot provide individual dietary advice. If you or someone you care for has special dietary requirements, medical needs or an eating disorder, please seek advice from a registered healthcare professional. If you would like more information on eating disorders, Beat has lots of useful advice for adults and children.