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

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 into gardening

If you have a garden, set aside a patch for your child and let them design and plant their own garden. Digging, weeding and watering all help build in extra activity throughout the day.

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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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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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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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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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Dance it off

Hold a disco or some other activity so that the children can be active and burn up some of the calories they will be eating.

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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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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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Shopping

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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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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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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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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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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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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Christmas

Little steps for a healthier christmas

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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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Mealtimes

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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Go traditional with porridge.

Porridge has been a staple for years on the island of Ireland and for good reason. It's tasty, cheap, can be cooked in 3 minutes in the microwave and is full of vitamins and minerals. Use some fruit to sweeten it up instead of sugar or honey.

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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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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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Never be fruitless!

Stock up on peaches, pears, and other fruits tinned in their own juice - they make a great addition to porridge, muesli and breakfast cereals.

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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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Screentime

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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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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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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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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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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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