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

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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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Shopping

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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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 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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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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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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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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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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Christmas

Little steps for a healthier christmas

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Mealtimes

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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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 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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Add vegetables to pizza

Add more vegetable toppings (like mushrooms, peppers, and onions) and less cheese to your pizza. Let your children decorate their own pizza to make mealtimes more fun.

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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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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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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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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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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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Eat breakfast

Many people skip breakfast hoping that it will help them lose weight. But research shows they're more likely to overeat later in the day. Give you and the family 10 extra minutes in the morning for some essential nutrition.

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Snacks

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Screentime

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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My Little Steps