Keeping to a healthy weight

It is not good to be either overweight or underweight. Being overweight can lead to health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Not eating as much as you need can also affect your health.

Many people in the UK are heavier than the recommended weight for their height. Losing weight can be difficult, but trying to keep to a healthy weight is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of developing cancer. Your GP can advise you on your ideal weight. If you are concerned about your weight, get in touch with your GP or a dietitian for advice and support.

Be patient with yourself. Losing weight is a gradual process. It is important to eat a healthy, balanced diet to make sure you get all the nutrients you need. It is reasonable to aim to lose about 0.5 to 1kg (1 to 2lbs) a week.

The best ways to keep to a healthy weight are to:

  • only eat as much food as you need
  • eat a healthy diet with lots of fruit and vegetables, and less fat and sugar
  • be more physically active.

Keeping to a healthy weight

It is not good to be either overweight or underweight. Eating too much can make you overweight, which can lead to health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Not eating as much food as your body needs can also affect your health.

Many people in the UK are heavier than the recommended weight for their height. And unfortunately, certain types of treatment for cancer, such as hormonal therapies or steroids, can lead to weight gain.

Losing weight can be difficult, but trying to keep to a healthy weight is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of developing cancer. Being overweight increases the risk of many types of cancer, including bowel, kidney, womb and gullet (oesophagus) cancer. Women who are overweight and have been through the menopause are at an increased risk of breast cancer.

There is also evidence that women who have breast cancer after the menopause may be able to reduce their risk of the cancer coming back by keeping to a healthy body weight after treatment. Being overweight may also increase the chances of complications if you need surgery.

Try to keep your weight within the normal range for your height. Your GP can advise you on your ideal weight. If you are concerned about your weight, get in touch with your GP or a dietitian for advice and support. Dietitians can give you advice about healthier food choices that are lower in calories but still make you feel full. Fruit and vegetables are better foods to fill yourself up with than unhealthier snacks such as biscuits and cake.

Be patient with yourself. Losing weight is a gradual process. It is important to eat a healthy, balanced diet to make sure you get all the nutrients you need to keep your body healthy. It is reasonable to aim to lose about 0.5 to 1kg (1lb to 2lbs) a week.

Top tips for keeping to a healthy weight:

  • Only eat as much food as you need, according to how active you are. You may need to discuss this with a dietitian.
  • Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruit and vegetables, and less fat and sugar.
  • Try to be more physically active.

We have information about different ways to keep active.

It is the only thing we can really do anything about, but that doesn't mean we should be beating ourselves up about our weight before or after. We have to be kind to ourselves and remember our bodies have been through a lot. That said, for me, I recognised that I needed to lose weight to get a bit of the old “me” back.

Fiona


Using a food and activity planner

Writing down your meals and exercise each week can help you plan in advance. It can also be a good way to keep track of how you are doing.

We have a planner that you can use to help you manage your weight.

Tips for using the planner:

  • Print multiple copies of the planner, so you can use a new one each week.
  • Keep a note of everything you eat for a week if you can.
  • You can then see what you have done well and use it to plan for the next week. You will also have a record to show your doctor or dietitian.
  • Tick off each portion of fruit and vegetables you eat.
  • Use the activity section to plan and record physical activities.
  • At times when you have eaten a lot, make a note of where you were, who you were with and how you were feeling. This may help you spot any eating habits that are causing weight gain.

When you are getting used to life after cancer treatment, being able to talk to people going through the same thing can help. Visit our Online Community to chat to others and share your experiences.


Healthy eating tips

As well as making healthy choices when choosing or cooking your food, these tips will help you keep to a healthy weight.


Change your habits

  • Start the day with a healthy breakfast. This will help you cut out morning snacks and feel less hungry at lunchtime.
  • Eat at the table rather than in front of the TV. Concentrating on your food helps you enjoy it more and makes you feel more full. This makes it easier to avoid snacking between meals.
  • Make sure you drink plenty of fluids. Sometimes we mistake being thirsty for being hungry. Have a glass of water before meals.
  • Tell your family and friends what you are doing so they can support you.

Cut down portion sizes

The amount you eat is just as important as what you eat. If you eat large portions, you are more likely to gain weight. There are things you can do to help cut down your food portions:

  • Use a smaller dinner plate. Bigger plates need more food to fill them.
  • Enjoy a healthy starter, such as low-fat soup, melon or salad, before your main meal.
  • Eat slowly and avoid second helpings. It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you are full, so rest for a while before deciding whether you want more.
  • Avoid snacking straight from a bag or packet. Put the amount of food you want to eat on a plate.
  • It is important to always eat main meals.

We have some recipe ideas you may find helpful.

Back to Healthy eating

Diet and cancer

Eating a healthy, balanced diet and keeping to a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of developing some cancers.

Staying healthy

A balanced diet will provide everything you need to keep your body healthy. It will contribute to your well-being.

Eating and socialising

When you have a healthy diet most of the time, you can still enjoy less healthy foods when you are socialising or celebrating.

Food hygiene

You are more at risk of food poisoning if your immunity is low. This is because you are less able to fight infection.