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4 tips for managing your weight with a chronic illness

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Giacomo di Falco

By : Giacomo di Falco

Posted 4 days ago

Some chronic illnesses can lead to weight loss. Other illnesses, like stress, can lead to weight gain. However, managing a stable weight is important to stay fit and maintain a good quality of life. To do so, eating well is crucial, especially when living with a chronic illness. So, to help you, here are some tips to maintain your weight: 

 

1. Eat balanced and varied meals 

 Remember this simple rule for healthy eating. In a balanced plate you need:   

- A quarter of carbohydrates: rice, pasta, quinoa, semolina, bread... 

- A quarter of proteins: legumes, seafood, eggs, tofu, nuts, insects...

- The rest, meaning the other half of the plate, should be vegetables: carrots, peppers, tomatoes, etc. 

 The next step is to avoid frequent consumption of ultra-processed foods: chocolate, biscuits, cakes, etc. Here, you only need to look at the list of ingredients on the packaging; if there are more than five, it is a product to be avoided.

For some chronic diseases, a specific diet is part of the treatment. If this is the case for you, talk to your doctor, who can refer you to a nutritionist. 

 

2. Keep a food diary

 To eat a balanced diet and to be able to do so in the long term, it is a good idea to keep a food diary! In this diary, you can note down your meals (occurrences, contents, quantities, etc.) and even the pleasure you get from eating!

 It is very important to enjoy yourself and eat what you like to keep good habits without punishing yourself. With this diary, you can also note your weight and compare it over time, to objectively observe the evolution (but don't put pressure on yourself, the goal remains pleasure and balance in your diet).

 This tool can also be useful if you want to manage your weight with the help of a health professional, it serves as a history to note trends in your diet. 

 

3. Monitor your BMI

We all tend to think we are too much of this, not enough of that... But there is a tool to keep some objectivity in the perception you have of your weight: the BMI. It's the Body Mass Index, a very simple tool to know in which range your weight is on a scale of corpulence. Validated by the World Trade Organization (WTO), this tool consists of a very simple calculation: 

 BMI = your height in cm / (your weight x your weight)

 Depending on the result, you will know if you have a normal weight, if you are underweight or   overweight.

 The WHO indicates these interpretations: 

- Less than 18.5 Underweight (thin)

- 18.5 to 25 Normal weight

- 25 to 30 Overweight

- 30 to 35 Moderate obesity

- 35 to 40 Severe obesity

- Over 40 Morbid or massive obesity

You can monitor your BMI to keep an eye on how your weight is changing and to take a step back from what you may tend to think about yourself.

 

4. Move for 30 minutes a day

Physical activity, even if minimal, is an effective way for your body to fight weight loss and weight gain. When you hear "physical activity", you may think that it is not for you, that it is too hard because you may be in pain due to your illness, or maybe you don't know what to do?

And yet, moving for 30 minutes a day is quite easy and accessible to everyone. You don't have to "go to the gym". For example, you can walk, cycle, or do whatever you like as long as your body is doing something. And if you have a chronic illness that prevents you from practicing an activity, you can turn to APA: Adapted Physical Activities. I invite you to talk to your doctor so that he or she can direct you. 

Living with a chronic disease may require you to manage your weight to avoid gaining or losing weight. Maintaining your weight is not always easy, and a balanced diet, sometimes specific to your disease, is an integral part of your treatment. So don't hesitate to talk about it with your doctor. If this health professional considers it necessary, he or she may suggest that you consult a nutrition professional. 

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