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Lifestyle and weight loss


Extra body weight we carry can cause extra wear and tear on our knees. Weight loss alone will not make knee pain go away, but it may help you delay or avoid surgery for knee arthritis.

If you need knee-replacement surgery at some point, losing weight beforehand will make your surgery safer and your recovery easier.

Examine your eating habits

Losing and regaining weight is a frustrating cycle that many people repeat over and over again.

Look at your eating habits to figure out what your patterns are. Ask yourself:

  • How often do you eat? What size portions do you eat?
  • What foods do you crave the most? What foods are you the most likely to eat too much of?
  • Where do you tend to overeat -- at home, at work, when you go out?
  • What feelings or emotions do you have when you overeat?

A few tips to prevent overeating are:

  • Eat smaller meals and snacks more often during the day, instead of three large meals. Following this pattern may keep you from becoming so hungry that you overeat.
  • Eat your food slowly and chew it well. This may help you avoid eating too much before you realize you are full.
  • DO NOT do other activities while eating.
  • Reduce your portion size by using smaller plates.
  • Keep serving dishes off the table so you need to get up to get more food.
  • Avoid stress, frustration, and boredom as much as you can. Recognize when these or other feelings are causing you to overeat.

Along with eating less, you may need to learn to eat healthier foods:

  • Avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar.
  • Drink less alcohol.
  • Stay away from packaged foods and learn to read labels to look for hidden calories.

Eating a balanced diet means you consume the right types and amounts of foods and drinks to keep your body healthy.

Getting started

Focus on making one change at a time. Pick a behavior you are strongly motivated to change.

Every day, find something in your diet you can change. For example:

  • Find out how many calories you save by not eating an extra cookie.
  • Change to a food that is fat-free or sugar-free to save calories.

If you eat well most of the time, do not beat yourself up if you slip up some. And if you do gain some weight, go easy on yourself. Think about what you will do if you slip up. How will you get back on track?

The healthiest way to lose weight is slowly and steadily. Develop healthy eating habits you can stick with over time. Look at managing your weight as a long-term process.

Know that it takes time to make and maintain changes in your lifestyle.

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Review Date: 8/9/2018

Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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