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Your Healthy Weight

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Healthy eating for children and young people

Child eating a bananaEating well is an important part of maintaining good health, and can help you feel your best. It can be simple too. Just follow these eight tips to get started.

The Food Standards Agency have put together these practical tips to cover the basics of healthy eating, and can help you make healthier choices:

Start by choosing one of the tips that you feel would benefit you the most and that you would like to focus on. Then think of ways you could begin putting this into your daily life. For example, in order to eat more fruit and vegetables, you might start spending just a few minutes boiling or steaming frozen vegetables, to go with evening meals. You could get the whole family involved by replacing chocolate or crisps in the kids lunch boxes with a peice of fruit.

Check out the eatwell plate

The 8 Top Tips for Eating Well

1. Base your meals on starchy foods

Examples: potatoes, cereals, pasta, rice, cous cous and bread.

Benefits: Provide essential energy for you to get through the day. Also, choosing wholegrain varieties, which contain more fibre, can make you feel full for longer and help keep your bowels healthy.

How much should I have: Starchy foods should make up around one third of the foods you eat. Try to include one starchy food with each meal.

Interesting fact: Some people think starchy foods are fattening, but gram for gram carbohydrates contain less than half the calories of fat.

2. Eat lots of fruit and vegetables

Examples: Why not chop a banana over your breakfast cereal, or swap your usual mid-morning snack for some fresh or dried fruit?

Benefits: Fruit and vegetables contain lots of vitamins and minerals and are low in fat and high in fibre.

How much should I have: It's recommended that we eat at least five portions of different types of fruit and veg a day. One portion of fruit and veg is 80g (roughly a handful)or 150ml of fruit juice.

Interesting fact: Choose from fresh, frozen, tinned, dried or juice.  Remember that potatoes do not count towards your 5 a day.

3. Eat more fish

Examples: sardines on wholemeal toast for lunch.  Baked salmon and salad for an evening meal.

How much should I have: Aim for at least two portions a week (140g per portion), including at least one portion of oily fish.

Benefits: Fish is a good source of protein and contains many vitamins and minerals.  Oily fish is high in omega-3 fats, which may help to prevent heart disease.

Interesting Fact: Canned and smoked fish can be high in salt. Oily fish including salmon, mackerel, trout, herring, fresh tuna, sardines and pilchards. Non-oily fish include haddock, plaice, coley, cod, tinned tuna, skate and hake. Anyone who regularly eats a lot of fish should try to choose as wide a variety as possible. 

Women who might have a baby one day should eat no more than two portions of oily fish per week, other adults should eat no more than four portions per week.

4. Cut down on saturated fat and sugar

Examples: Try to cut down on cakes, pies, biscuits, sausages, cream, butter, lard and hard cheese , and choose foods that contain unsaturated rather than saturated fats, such as vegetable oils, oily fish and avocados

Disadvantage: Too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which increases your risk of developing heart disease.

How much should I eat: We all need some fat in our diet. But it's important to pay attention to the type of fat we're eating. There are two main types of fat: saturated and unsaturated.  Food labels can help:  follow the link   to check how much is high or low:  Food Shopping Card

Interesting fact: Most people in the UK eat too much sugar. Sugary foods and drinks are often high in calories, and could  contribute to weight gain. They can also cause tooth decay, especially if eaten between meals. Cut down on sugary fizzy drinks, cakes, biscuits and pastries, which contain added sugars: this is the kind of sugar we should be cutting down on rather than sugars that are found naturally in foods such as fruit and milk. 

5. Eat less salt

Examples:  Don't add salt to food when cooking or at the table.  Cook from scratch rather than using prepacked foods.  Opt for cereals with no salt.

Disadvantage: Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure. People with high blood pressure are more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke. Use food labels to help you cut down.

How much should I have:  Adults and children over 11 should eat no more than 6g of salt a day. Younger children should have even less. See the food card above for further details.

Interesting Fact:Even if you don't add salt to your food, you may still be eating too much. About three-quarters of the salt we eat is already in the food we buy, such as breakfast cereals, soups, breads and sauces.

6. Get active and be a healthy weight

Example: Try getting off the bus one stop early on the way home from work, and walking.  Walk the children to school or part way to school rather than driving to the school gate.

Benefits:  Physical activity can help you to maintain a healthy weight which is an important part of overall good health. Being overweight can lead to health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes. Being underweight could also affect your health.

How much should I have: Adults should be looking to achieve 30 minutes of moderate activity at least five times per week.  Children should achieve 1 hour every day.

Intersting fact: Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out. You'll also look better and feel better when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem. Regular physical activity can even help prevent depression.

7. Drink plenty of water

Example: Try to carry a water bottle with you or have a glass of water on your desk to provide easy access to drinks through the day.  Have a glass of juice for breakfast. 

Benefits:  Can help with concentration levels, keeps the body hydrated, can increase energy levels and help to reduce over eating.

How much should I have:

Try to drink about six to eight glasses of water (or other fluids) a day to prevent dehydration. When the weather is warm or when we get active, we may need more. But avoid soft and fizzy drinks that are high in added sugars.

Interesting fact: When thinking about alcohol, there is nothing wrong with the occasional drink, but drinking too much can cause serious health problems. Alcohol is also high in calories, so cutting down could help you to control your weight.

8. Don't skip breakfast

Example: Wholemeal cereal, with fruit sliced over the top is a tasty and nutritious breakfast.

Benefits:  A healthy breakfast is an important part of a balanced diet, and provides some of the vitamins and minerals we need for good health.  

How much should I have: Try to have breakfast every day.

Interesting fact: Some people skip breakfast because they think it will help them lose weight. In fact, research shows that eating breakfast can help people control their weight.