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

Let your child lead

Ask your child about what activities and games they enjoy in school, PE, or in the playground - and maybe you can try them at home.

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Fly the Eco Flag

Is your local school an eco-friendly "Green Flag" school? Ask about walking school bus initiatives as part of their Transport plan and cycling programmes. See here for more information.;

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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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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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Wrap up

Remember, there's no such thing as unsuitable weather - just unsuitable clothing. Wear layers and get a waterproof jacket. A hi-vis vest will help drivers spot you when you are out and about.

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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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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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Whistle while you work

Get more movement into your mopping by playing some energetic music while you work. You'll also get finished in double-quick time!

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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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Make a game of it

Do active jobs together at home such as hoovering, sweeping, or raking the leaves. If your children have a competitive streak, have a race to see who can get finished their jobs first.

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Shopping

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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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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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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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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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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Christmas

Little steps for a healthier christmas

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Make food fun

Serve party food in interesting ways such as pineapple shells filled with fruit and sandwiches cut into different shapes.

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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

Get the whole family to help

Getting the family involved in cooking can be fun and a learning experience for everyone. Younger children can help tear lettuce leaves for salads. Older children can stir a spaghetti sauce or weigh ingredients.

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Have a glass of fruit juice with breakfast

A small glass of unsweetened fruit juice with breakfast equals one of your 5-a-day portions of fruit and vegetables. More than one glass a day still only counts as one portion.

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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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Try wholemeal or granary toast for breakfast.

Toast is a favourite for breakfast. Wholemeal, granary or brown breads are they're higher in fibre and tastier. It's best to avoid too much spread and low fat options are even better.

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Eat less meat, more vegetables

Add less meat and more vegetables to curries, stews, and casseroles to make these favourites even more nutritious. It's also a great way to hide veggies for those fussy eaters in the family.

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Dish up some healthy starchy foods

Potatoes, rice, bread and pasta form a big part of any meal. So do your best to choose well - go for the wholegrain or wholemeal varieties when you can.

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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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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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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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Marinate your own meat

Marinate fresh lean meats like lean beef, lamb or chicken using your own home-made marinades rather than ready-made sauces. You'll cut down on the calorie content of the meal, as well as on sugar and salt. Try fresh coriander and lime juice as a marinade - it's delicious!

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Snacks

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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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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Get a mix of nuts

Nuts provide a healthy snack for children and there are lots of varieties that children can try. There are no preparation requirements and they provide a nutritional, filling snack for all the family. (Note: whole nuts should not be given to children under 5 years of age.)

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Screentime

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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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My Little Steps