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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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 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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Mealtimes

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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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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Opt for either butter or sauce - not both - on your sandwich

Adding butter, margarine or dairy spread to our bread is something we tend to do automatically. But it's worth asking yourself whether you really need the spread? If you're adding mayonnaise, relish or other sauces to a sandwich, then you probably don't. Opt for one or the other, and go for lower-fat spreads like tomato relish when available.

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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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Fit in fruit and vegetables

There's always a way of getting more fruit or veg into your child's lunch! Add salad to sandwiches or cut up some raw veggie sticks for their lunchbox.

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Introduce new vegetables to your children

Include a new vegetable as part of a meal that your children already know and like, e.g. omelettes, bolognese sauce, shepherds pie, or as part of a "chips and dips" snack.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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

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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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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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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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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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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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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