Weight Management: Knowing Your BMI and Watching What You Eat
Through the Living Smart Quiz, you identified some of your diet and exercise habits. Before setting your new lifestyle goals, it will be helpful to determine your current body mass index (BMI). BMI takes into account both your height and your weight to determine whether you are at a healthy weight.
Adult BMI Chart
Locate your height in the left-most column and read across the row for that height to your approximate weight. Follow the column of the weight up to the top row that lists the BMI. A BMI of 19-24 is the healthy weight range, a BMI of 25-29 is the overweight range, and a BMI of 30 and above is in the obese range.
Once you know your BMI, you can determine healthy eating habits. Keeping a food journal—keeping track of what you eat and drink each day—is a great way to begin to make changes in your diet. Writing things down not only will give you insight into what and how much you eat and drink, but also can help you uncover why, what and when you are eating. You’ll figure out if particular times of the day are challenging for you and if certain circumstances (or people) cause you to overeat.
You will also be able to see at a glance if you need to add more vegetables to your days, less sugar to your nights and whether you need to walk past the vending machine on your way to meetings.
Keeping a food journal is easy—use this journal or a notebook to write down:
- Anything you eat and drink, with amounts. Estimate the size, volume, weight and/or number of items and calories.
- Time of day you eat or drink.
- Where you are. In your office? Car? Kitchen? Restaurant?
- Whom you are with. Family? Friends? Coworkers? Alone?
- Other things you may be doing while eating and/or drinking. Watching TV? On the computer? Driving? Making dinner?
- Your emotions. Happy? Sad? Depressed? Angry? Bored?
- Are you hungry? Yes? No? A little?
Tips for keeping a food journal:
- Write down everything. Keep your notebook with you and write down everything you eat or drink. Above all, be honest with yourself.
- Don’t wait. Don’t wait until the end of the day to fill in your journal. Write it down as your eat or drink.
- Be specific. If you ate cereal for breakfast, what kind was it? Add sugar or cream to your coffee? Did you dip French fries in ketchup?
Keeping your journal for at least a week will help you identify triggers that may cause you to overeat—or eat when you are not even hungry. You may start to see, for example, that every day in the office at 10 a.m., you take a break with coworkers and have a muffin with your midmorning coffee, but you’re not even hungry. You may find out that a stressful day with your kids causes you to reach for the refrigerator; that you tend to snack mindlessly while you watch TV; or that you turn to food when you are bored.
When you are aware of these clues to your eating patterns, you can start to change them. And that’s the beauty and benefit of keeping a food journal!