Eating Healthy: the Basics

1. What is a healthy breakfast?
2. What is a healthy lunch?
3. What is a healthy dinner?
4. How much should I weigh?
5. How many calories should I be eating?
6. What is the best way to lose weight?
7. How can I keep my weight loss goal in mind and stay motivated?
8. What is a healthy weekly weight loss?
9. How to set weight loss goals and make them happen
10. How to keep a food diary, and why it is essential to successful weight loss
11. Are all fats bad for you?
12. Are saturated fats bad for you?
13. Are unsaturated fats good for you?
14. Are carbohydrates bad for you?
15. Is fiber good for you?
16. How to read nutrition/food labels
17. How to plan your weekly menus
18. Why should I eat less salt?
19. What do the sodium (salt) numbers mean on food labels?
20. What is The Mediterranean Diet?
21. Why eating vegetables is good for you
22. Why eating fruit and nuts is good for you
23. Why are cereals and whole grains good for you?
24. What are legumes, and why are they good for you?
25. Why is eating fish good for you?
26. Which fats and oils are good for you?
27. Are dairy products good for you?
28. Which meats should I not eat?
29. Is drinking alcohol good for you?
30. Is it important to measure your ingredients?
31. Are snacks good for you?
32. How to choose the right portion size
33. Can you lose weight with a smaller plate?
34. Eat healthier by cleaning out your pantry
35. Which oils and fats should I keep in my pantry?
35. Which oils and fats are good for you - and when should I use them?
36. Which carbohydrates are good for you?
37. What is the best chicken or turkey for you?
38. Are dairy products good for you?
39. Which nuts and seeds should I eat?
40. Is red meat like beef or pork bad or good for you?
41. Is eating dessert good or bad for you?
42. Is drinking soda bad for you?
43. Is drinking coffee bad for you?
44. How can healthy food taste good? Part 1
45. How can healthy food taste good? Part 2
46. How to eat healthy while eating out
47. Are vitamins and supplements necessary to eat healthy?
48. How to eat healthy while traveling


Eating Healthy: the Basics

How much should I weigh?

feet on a scale

Almost every day I have patients ask me what they should weigh and how much they need to lose. I will admit that sometimes I am a bit evasive, saying such things as, "Start working on your weight, and I’ll tell you when to stop."

Why am I not always more direct in helping them set goals? Because folks can often be pretty unrealistic about their health and their weight. Usually people are shocked when I tell them what an ideal weight would be for them.

There are a few ways to look at what your best weight should be, but Body Mass Index (BMI) is one of the most reliable to help you know what a healthy weight is for you.

BMI is based on a calculation that estimates weight in relation to height. There are more precise measures of weight, but BMI allows researchers a quick and inexpensive way to compare the weight of different populations. Because this has been the research standard you can easily compare yourself to the findings of researchers on what is considered a healthy weight.

It's pretty clear that being overweight can have serious effects on your health. There are well established connections between obesity and many illnesses, with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, breast cancer, colon cancer, arthritis and stroke being the most common problems.

While you have probably heard all of this before, I like to talk with my patients about the real consequences for them of these conditions. If your weight leads to having diabetes or a heart attack will you be able to dance at your son’s wedding? Will you live to see your daughter’s first child graduate from high school? There’s real pain in carrying around too much weight - arthritis of the knees, difficulty breathing, swelling of the ankles, diabetic foot problems – these are the facts of life for most with a BMI in the obese range.

BMI is a rough estimate of body fat. When I say "rough estimate" I mean both – an estimate and a rough one at best. The limitation is that it doesn’t measure body fat directly, so BMI can be misleading for those who have an especially high ratio of lean muscle mass to their overall weight. For the vast majority of us, however, Body Mass Index is a good indication of whether your weight is in a normal range for your height.

This table shows the range of weights for a normal Body Mass Index. Your Ideal Body Weight should fall between the weights for a BMI of 19 to 25.

BMI 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
Body Weight (pounds)
58 91 96 100 105 110 115 119
59 94 99 104 109 114 119 124
60 97 102 107 112 118 123 128
61 100 106 111 116 122 127 132
62 104 109 115 120 126 131 136
63 107 113 118 124 130 135 141
64 110 116 122 128 134 140 145
65 114 120 126 132 138 144 150
66 118 124 130 136 142 148 155
67 121 127 134 140 146 153 159
68 125 131 138 144 151 158 164
69 128 135 142 149 155 162 169
70 132 139 146 153 160 167 174
71 136 143 150 157 165 172 179
72 140 147 154 162 169 177 184
73 144 151 159 166 174 182 189
74 148 155 163 171 179 186 194
75 152 160 168 176 184 192 200
76 156 164 172 180 189 197 205

For instance, if you are 63 inches tall (5 foot 3 inches) a good range for a healthy weight is between 107 lbs. and 141 lbs.

If your BMI is not in the normal range you can use the BMI table below along with the BMI calculator on this site to see if you fall in the Overweight, Obese or Severely Obese ranges.

Less than 18.5 underweight
18.5 to 24.9 normal weight
25 to 29.9 overweight
30 or more obese
greater than 35 very obese

Now, for some of you this is going to be shocking information. It is amazing to me how disconnected people are today from what a healthy weight should be. While BMI information is not perfect, it is a pretty good guide, especially for the majority of the population.

Don’t worry, you can get to a healthy weight if you are overweight or obese. It does take some planning and work at taking action, but as you read through this book, each day you’ll learn a little more about how to make that happen.

Lunchtime is one of the places where people get way too many calories. It amazes me how many people don’t make their lunch to take to work with them, since it is so expensive to eat out these days.

Being very conservative, if you eat lunch out every day and it costs $5.00, that’s $25.00 per week or about $100.00 each month. $1,200.00 per year. (That’s a trip to Cancun!)

Save your money and save your life! Start making your lunch each day and taking it with you. It takes all of 10 minutes to make a sandwich and put it in a bag with a piece of fruit. This is a critical part of this program. By making your lunch, you not only save money but you are in complete control of the amount of calories you’ll have each day at lunch.