7 Small Changes to Help You Whittle Your Waistline

Decrease your waistline and increase your chances of having a long, healthy life! That’s the message from Mary’s Center Registered Dietitian and Mary’s Center WIC Program Director, Akua Odi Boateng, who has some great nutrition tips to get you started.

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for people who have a large waistline. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), you have a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes if most of your fat is around your waist (rather than on your hips). The risk increases with a waist size above 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men.

Here are some small changes you can make to put you on the road to losing that spare tire!

1.    Cut It In Half.

Eat the foods you enjoy and still lose weight simply by cutting your portion sizes. Instead of eating a whole deli sandwich, for example, just eat half. Drink water with your meal and you will feel just as full as if you had eaten a whole sandwich. When it comes to snacks, buy individual-size packages, for example a small bag of potato chips, as opposed to a large bag which will really test your willpower! If you must absolutely buy the bigger bag because it’s cheaper, divide the chips into several small snack bags when you get home.

2.    Study Serving Sizes.

Do you know how many pretzels, cookies or nuts are in a serving? Read the label and you’ll probably find that you’ve been consuming multiple servings without knowing it. Measure out a single portion of your favorite snacks and stick to that portion only.

3.    Be Smart When Eating Out.

-       Steer clear of all-you-can-eat buffets, because the temptation to overeat will be hard to resist.

-       Let the server know you are watching your weight and they will probably allow you to order from the children’s menu.

-       If you can’t order from the children’s menu, order an adult portion, but ask for a doggie bag or take-out container as soon as the server brings the food, so that you can eat the rest tomorrow for lunch.

-       Be wise; don’t supersize! Don’t be tempted by meal deals.

4.    Fill Up On Fiber.

Fiber helps to curb cravings and promotes digestion. Here are some suggestions on incorporate more fiber into your diet:

-       Add chia seeds to your oatmeal, smoothies and salads.  (Chia seeds are also a great source of protein, by the way).

-       Snack on berries or fruits like apples when you are craving something sweet.

-       Load up on veggies like spinach, kale, collard greens, cabbage or Brussels sprouts.

spinach dish

5.    Slash  Your Sugar Intake.

So many of the foods we eat today contain added sugar. Be careful when buying processed foods like breakfast cereal, salad dressings and tomato sauces. Read the labels carefully and remember that the words cane juice, cane syrup, corn sweetener and high-fructose corn syrup are just other ways of saying sugar!

6.    Reduce Or Eliminate Alcohol.

Alcohol doesn’t provide your body with any nutrition and just adds “empty calories”. The other thing is that if you drink too much during a meal, your resolve to eat well could break down and you could end up forgetting all the tips mentioned earlier!

7.    Manage Your Stress.

The stress hormone cortisol makes it easier for the body to store fat in the abdomen. Stress is a part of everyday life, but try to find ways to manage it. Exercise (for example walking, cycling, gardening, swimming or yoga) is a good way of releasing tension. Remember that the World Health Organizations recommends that “adults aged 18–64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week”.

Losing weight requires perseverance. Stick to these tips and you will see the numbers on the scale coming down steadily. I also invite you to try some of the delicious recipes in the WIC Recipe Book, which you can download for free here.

If you would like to discuss your eating plan with Mary’s Center’s nutritionists, call 202-420-7113 today!

To make a medical or dental appointment, call 1-844-796-2797 or request an appointment online.

About Akua Odi Boateng, MS, RDN, LD

Akua Odi BoatengBorn in Ghana and fluent in English and Akan, Odi Boateng joined Mary's Center in June 2011. She is the Director of the WIC Program and enjoys interacting with participants from different parts of the world. She studied at Howard University in Washington DC as an American Association of University Women International Fellow. She also studied at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana. Odi has a Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry and a Master's degree in Nutrition. Odi initially studied nutrition to find out how to prevent malnutrition. "But the more I learned, the more I got to know that poor nutrition can cause obesity and also lead to lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension." Odi says being a Registered Dietitian affords her the opportunity to help people navigate through all the information regarding food and nutrition so that healthy eating is easy and delicious. Her favorite healthy food is sliced papaya and in her free time she enjoys collecting stamps and traveling.


Assessing Your Weight and Health Riskby the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (National Institutes of Health). Accessed 3/1/2017.

Physical Activity and Adultsby the World Health Organization. Accessed 3/1/2017.


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