Welcome to Little Steps

Welcome to Little Steps, the step-by-step guide to eating well and being active for you and your family. Take your first little step to a healthier life today.

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Healthy Meal Planner

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Rainy Days

Activity

Take the family for a walk

Instead of flopping in front of the TV after dinner, build an after-dinner walk into your family routine. It will help everyone digest their food and wind down before bedtime.

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Walk for fun and fitness

There are lots of walks all around the country for people of all ages, so get to know routes that are close to you. See here for more information. Make sure you have the right clothes and you won't notice the weather.

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Make the most of windy weather

Just because the sun has gone it doesn't mean you can't go to the beach. Wrap up well and try an activity like flying a kite.

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Get off the couch

Be a role model for your children - if they see you being active and enjoying it they will be more likely to model your behaviour.

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Get a dog

Dog owners live longer, research shows*, and it's down to regular "walkies" and throwing sticks in the park.

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Cut out the short cuts

Take a good look at your daily routine, and find all the opportunities you're missing to take the active option. Take the stairs rather than the escalator. If you can, walk to the shops rather than driving or at least park a bit further away and walk the rest.

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Get competitive with cleaning

Housework has to be done whatever the weather. Encourage your kids to help with jobs around the house, such as washing the floor or hoovering. Turn the jobs into a competition to encourage them to work up a sweat.

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Dance on a Saturday night

Turn on some tunes and let the whole family bop 'till they drop. Invest in a cheap set of disco lights and take turns at being DJ.

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Go exploring

Buy a local map and go for family cycles or walks every weekend. Make it more interesting by choosing somewhere new to explore every time.

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Focus on fun

Teach your children how to play traditional games, such as hide and seek, tip the can, red rover, tag and hopscotch. You'll all have fun! Find out how to play here

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Shopping

Check your trolley before you finish

Is it mostly filled with starchy foods, fruit and vegetables? If not restore some balance by adding some.

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Plan your snacks

Let your children have some choice in what their snack foods are. If you agree this with them it will be easier to stick to the plan during the week.

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Eat before you shop

It's never a good idea to shop on an empty stomach. You're more likely to rush things, make poor choices and go for a quick sugar fix by picking up an unhealthy snack.

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Stock up on tinned and frozen vegetables

All types of vegetables count towards our 5-a-day - fresh, frozen and canned. Get some for your cupboard to use when fresh supplies are low or worse for wear.

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Christmas

Little steps for a healthier christmas

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Stock up on some quick options

Get some canned and dried nutritious foods for your kitchen cupboard. You can rustle up a healthy meal in minutes with tinned fish and tomatoes, pasta and dried herbs. Or baked beans on toast - super fast and protein packed!

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Buy more unprocessed food than processed

Processed foods are higher in fat and salt and lower in other nutrients than food in its natural state. Go easy on the ready meals and choose chicken, turkey, pork and beef more often than processed meats such as luncheon meat, ham and bacon.

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Make a list

Write a shopping list before you go, then stick to it as you shop. Planning your meals for the coming week will help you put the list together.

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Love the labels

Learn to read food labels, and take advantage of information that will help you make healthy shopping choices. Compare like for like products and choose those that are lower in fat, salt and sugar.

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Try a new fruit or vegetable every week

Variety is the name of the game with healthy eating and it's great fun trying out new foods together. The more new foods that children are introduced to the more likely they are to have a varied diet.

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Mealtimes

Ask for child-sized versions of adult meals

When all that is available for children is things like chicken nuggets and chips don't be afraid to ask for a small portion of healthier adult options.

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Add some vegetables to your cooked breakfast

A cooked breakfast can actually be healthy. Add some veggies like mushrooms, tomatoes and baked beans, and go easy on the meat. You'll cut down on the fat content of the meal while getting in some of your 5-a-day of fruit and vegetables.

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Have a fruity dessert

Fruit is naturally sweet and makes a great dessert. Mix some seasonal fruits together or pop some apple or pear in tin foil into the oven while dinner is cooking.

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Go fishy

Fish is a great, low-fat source of protein. Include it in your diet once or twice a week. Oily fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, herring and sardines are especially good for your heart. Start the children off with some grilled fish fingers to get used to the taste of fish - you can even easily make your own, just slice up a fillet of any white fish and coat in flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs.

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Eat together

It's a fact that young people who eat with their families consume fewer higher calorie drinks, more fruit and vegetables, and less fat both at home and in meals away from the home.

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Try a wholemeal scone with banana for an on-the-go breakfast!

Choosing wholegrains and fruit means that you'll get the fibre you need for a healthy digestive system. It will also keep you fuller for longer and keep you going until lunchtime.

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Boost your breakfast with fruit

If you have a bowl of cereal for breakfast, add some chopped fruit like an apple, banana or some raisins to boost your fruit intake. And do the same for the children!

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Have salad with lunch

Just putting some salad in your sandwich helps you to hit your 5-a-day fruit and veg target. Prevent sogginess by packing your salad separately. Then either add it to your sandwich just before you eat it or have a side salad.

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Take five with fruit

Cut up a few pieces of fresh fruit and take them to work in a plastic container or freezer-bag. Pop some into your child's school-bag too as a mid-morning snack.

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Variety is the spice of life

The more foods your child is exposed to at an early age, the more balanced his or her diet will be.

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Snacks

Get a water bottle

Whether we are at school, work or play we need to drink regularly. Having a water bottle handy will help remind you and the family to drink regularly.

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Yummy scone

Wholemeal scone pieces topped lightly with spread makes a great simple snack for the whole family. Why not top with sliced banana or cheese.

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Bag some fruit and vegetables for home time

We're often starving after school or work, and it's so easy to pick up some crisps or chocolate. Try fresh fruit instead - you can buy different types for everyday to add lots of variety. You can also chop fruit and vegetables into pieces and store in a plastic bag or container to have on the go.

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Not every day

Limit unhealthy treats to a few times each week and make sure you give them after meals rather than on their own between meals. You could reduce the size to a small packet of crisps or a "fun size" chocolate bar.

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Dip into healthy treats

Make healthy yoghurt-based dips, for example yoghurt and mango or yoghurt and mint, and serve with a variety of vegetables, carrot and cucumber slices are perfect and plain breadsticks.

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All-day breakfast

Unsweetened cereal with milk is a snack the whole family can prepare themselves and enjoy anytime. Experiment by adding fruit, like bananas or berries.

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Ditch the crisps for home-made popcorn

Popcorn is low in fat and it contains fibre for healthy digestion. Popping your own takes only a couple of minutes, and you can omit salt. What could be easier?

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Swap sugary drinks for milk or tap water

Milk and water are healthiest. If you drink juice, choose real fruit juice not juice drinks. These have lots of added sugar and very little real fruit. Avoid tooth decay by drinking juice with meals and for young children ideally dilute one part juice to 10 parts water.

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Need a milk fix? Try a milky mug

For the whole family, why not try a mug of cold or warm milk after school or other snack times. Use low fat or semi-skimmed milk for a fabulous calcium boost.

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Don’t snack in front of the TV

Most people go into munching autopilot when they're distracted by the TV and don't realise when they're full. It's better if your children don't get into this habit.

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Screentime

Cut out afternoon TV

Get your children outdoors during daylight hours. Sunshine provides vitamins they need to grow healthily, and playing outside keeps them active.

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Set an example

Your children will do as you do, so take stock of your own viewing habits and, if you need to, cut down on your own screen time too.

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Make TV time family time

Instead of buying a set for each member of the family - find programmes that the whole family likes to watch.

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Have screen-free bedrooms

Don't put a TV or computer in your child's bedroom. Children with screens in their rooms get less exercise, interact less with their families, have poorer diets and get less sleep.

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Turn it off if no-one’s watching

Don't keep the TV on in the background - if no one's watching, turn it off.

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Get a TV guide

Get in the habit of planning your TV viewing. You'll find it easier to take control and monitor how much time your family is spending in front of the TV.

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Crowd out the TV

Think of fun things that your family will prefer to do instead of flopping on the sofa. How about a family walk after dinner instead of turning on the TV? Or cancelling the cable or satellite subscription and putting the money towards a special holiday instead?

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Plan for 2 hours screen time a day

TV viewing and computer games can be addictive, so limit your children's screen time to 2 hours a day.

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Make meals TV free

Turn off the TV during mealtimes - better still, don't have a TV in the kitchen or dining area.

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My Little Steps