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

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 wet - in an indoor pool

Swimming is a great activity for the whole family at all times of year. You might not be setting Olympic records but it will still help you and your children towards your daily amount.

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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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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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Teach children traditional games

Playground games such as hopscotch, tag or hide and seek are all good activities. Teach your kids the rules and join in yourself. Once they know the rules they can teach their friends how to play.

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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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Get a bike

Cycling is even better for your heart than walking, so get a bike and use it to get to work, pop to the shops, or enjoy the outdoors.

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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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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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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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Shopping

Keep it lean

Ask the butcher to trim off any visible fat. Small servings of lean meat deliver all the nutrients you need and you save money on the extra weight!

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Christmas

Little steps for a healthier christmas

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Mealtimes

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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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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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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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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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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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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Choose processed meats like sausages and burgers less often

Processed meats are higher in fat and salt and lower in other nutrients like iron and protein than fresh lean meats are. So go for unprocessed meats like lean beef, lamb, pork, chicken and turkey more often than processed meats like burgers, sausages or chicken nuggets.

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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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Grill, steam or bake foods

Instead of frying food, cut down on fat by using healthier cooking methods such as grilling, steaming and baking.

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Choose tomato-based sauces instead of cream or butter

Whether you're dining out or cooking up an Italian storm in the kitchen, try having a tomato or vegetable-based sauce with your pasta. As well as being lower in fat than the creamy or cheesy sauces, they make the dish more colourful and you pack in more essential nutrients.

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Snacks

Get creative with children’s rewards

Reward your children with a comic or book instead of sweets or crisps. Other rewards could include an outing to the park or swimming pool or just some time playing with you.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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My Little Steps