Expert advice to help you maintain a healthy weight
Dissatisfied with your weight?
We're bombarded with scare stories about weight, from size zero to the obesity 'epidemic'. But a healthy weight is determined by different factors for each of us. Our expert advice is designed to help you achieve and maintain a healthy, life-enhancing weight.
Overweight or underweight?
Being the right weight has a positive effect on wellbeing but also on our health, as being the wrong weight can cause a range of medical problems.
Planning ahead and packing a tasty and nutritious lunchbox can avoid reliance on the energy-dense, nutrient-poor options that often make up a quick meal on the move.
A nutritious lunch will help children and adults maintain energy levels and concentration through the afternoon.
Make your own lunch
If lunch is dictated by what's available - whether a sandwich bar, petrol station, corner shop or fast-food outlet - then choosing to make your own meal provides a nutritious and healthy alternative, and saves money.
Lunchboxes don't need to contain just a soggy sandwich and a packet of crisps. Ensuring the meal contains fruit and/or vegetables, a good helping of starchy carbohydrates and some dairy products will result in a nutritionally balanced lunch.
Avoid boredom setting in with some alternatives to sandwiches.
Try soup - a flask of warm vegetable soup can provide a portion of your five-a-day and boost fibre intake. Homemade versions can be tailored to personal taste, but shop-bought ones are fine, too (check the label to avoid those with a high salt content).
Rice, noodles, lentils, couscous, bulghur wheat and pasta can form the basis of salads, accompanied by chopped vegetables, fruit, seeds and nuts to boost vitamin and mineral intake. You can also add protein such as chicken, tuna, prawns and soya.
Leftovers from your meal the night before, such as homemade pizza, omelette or quiche, can all be eaten cold the next day, accompanied by a green salad.
Use different varieties of bread throughout the week, such as wholemeal, granary, oat-topped, seed-based, ciabatta, rye, bagels, wraps, pitta, baguettes and rolls. Choose wholemeal varieties for maximum nutrients (such as fibre, B vitamins, vitamin E and magnesium).
Fill out your lunchbox with the following:
Fruit – include fruit such as apples, grapes, plums and berries. Chopped fruit, fruit salad or dried fruit such as apricots, raisins and dates can be easily handled and eaten by children. A fruit smoothie is also a healthy option.
Vegetables - chopped vegetables such as carrot, celery and cucumber can be included with dips such as hummus to provide a nutritious snack. Cherry tomatoes, sliced peppers, baby corn and sugar snap peas are great for adding colour and are easy for young children to eat.
Desserts - fruit can be added to low-sugar jelly, or mixed in with natural yoghurt for a tasty dessert. Yoghurt drinks or small pots of custard or rice pudding can top up calcium intake and provide an alternative to more sugary or fatty options. If you like cakes and biscuits, try varieties such as hot-cross buns, scones and malt loaf. Include your favourite cake once in a while, but keep the portion small.
Variety is key to keeping lunchboxes appetising and appealing. Sandwich fillings can be packed with salad to add colour and nutrients, and accompanied by low-fat nutritious options such as lean meat, fish, egg and low-fat cheese.
Adding a treat every now and then is fine - try fun-size chocolate bars, snack-sized packets of biscuits and sweets to keep portions small and the calorie, fat and sugar content low.
Drinks - use tap water, or mix it with low-sugar squash or some fruit juice to add flavour. Unsweetened fruit juice and smoothies count towards one of your five a day, but avoid too many sugary drinks which can add lots of extra calories. Milk-based drinks, without added sugar, are a healthier option for teeth than sugary alternatives.