Healthy weight: health improvement guide (Patient information)


A person's weight is determined by many things. These include their genes, dieting history, medication, and many other things that happen during their life. A healthy weight is the stable weight you achieve when you adopt healthy behaviours. These might be:

  • improving the quality, variety and amount of food you eat
  • eating in response to internal cues of hunger and fullness
  • recognising emotional eating and doing something different
  • having a social life
  • drinking alcohol within recognised limits
  • doing physical activity which you enjoy
  • building good self worth, self care and body respect

Many people spend a lot of time, effort and money on trying to lose weight. Rather than 'dieting' think about the changes that you can make, and sustain, and notice how it makes you feel. Some of the options might be:

  • Improving what you eat:
    Plenty of fruit and vegetables
    Including oily fish, nuts and seeds
    Trying more fibre foods – wholemeal bread, oats, peas, beans and lentils, high fibre breakfast cereals
  • Improving how you eat:
    Eating when you’re physically hungry
    Stopping when you’re full
    Recognising when you’re eating because of how you feel
    Having options to improve how you feel emotionally
  • Doing regular physical activity:
    Becoming more active can seem a daunting task if you’ve not enjoyed it in the past. Taking small steps to find enjoyable ways of moving, stretching and relaxing your body will help build a sense of vitality. Too often the missing ingredient in active living is fun! What activity do you feel better in yourself for doing? Do you want time alone or as part of a group? What makes activity fun for you? Could pain management techniques help? Look for something that will work for you.
  • Other things:
    Larger people are often stereotyped as not bothering about their health and given other negative characteristics. Everybody deserves respect, whatever their size, shape, fitness level, health status, eating patterns etc. Learning to look after yourself and protect yourself against these stereotypes may be difficult, but is important.

Are you physically active

Often the missing ingredient in active living is fun. What activity do you feel better in yourself for doing? Do you want time alone or as part of a group? What makes activity fun for you? Could pain management techniques help?

  • Be active – 30 minutes every day
  • Sit less, move more
  • Look for activities you enjoy.

Visit 'Keeping Active' on NHS Inform.

Where you can get support

You can find support to manage your weight in:

Argyll and Bute – you can refer yourself to the Nutrition and Dietetic service. You will be contacted and directed to the most appropriate advice and support: Voicemail - 01631 789 041 Email - NHS Highland Dietitians Direct.

Highland – you can join a local Well Now course. These courses promote a way of life that focuses on intuitive eating and enjoyable physical activity rather than dieting and weight loss. We recognise that diets can be frustrating and often don't work. The My well-being and meleaflet explains more.

Parents/Carers - We also offer Well Now courses to parents/carers, because as the main care giver you are in a key role to influence your child's behaviours and attitudes. For more information on infants and toddlers please visit the Bumps to Bairns website and for school aged children please visit the High 5 website.

Book a course

Courses are run from different locations and times throughout the Highlands but are generally 6-8 weekly sessions for groups up to 16 participants. Updated course information can be accessed here:

Stress and support with other services

It can be very difficult to live with long term stress. The common reasons that cause people stress are money, housing, relationships and mental health. Here are some ideas for support.

Worried about heating your home?
Contact: Home Energy Scotland for free friendly advice.
Free phone: 0808 808 2282 or visit

Feeling low or anxious?
For free confidential help and support contact:
Breathing Space, who are there to listen.
Free phone: 0800 83 85 87 or visit

Do you need help with money?
For free confidential contact: Citizens Advice Direct.
Free phone from landlines (and most but not all mobiles, check with your provider):
0808 800 9060 or visit

Concerned about feeding yourself and your family?
Food banks are a charitable system that provides emergency food supplies:
North Highland, Tel: 01349 830 777 Email:
Argyll and Bute, Tel: 01631 565 730 Email:

Thinking of giving up smoking?
Visit the Smoke-Free Highland website: information about our E-cigarette friendly service.
Or call Smoke-Free Service: 0845 757 3077

Last reviewed: 19/11/2020

Next review date: 30/11/2023

Author(s): Dietetics .

Version: 2

Approved By: TAM subgroup of ADTC

Reviewer name(s): Fiona Clarke, Senior Health Improvement Specialist , Mairi Wotherspoon, Senior Dietician.

Document Id: TAM201