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.
Nutrition for children
Food and nutrients help to form strong teeth and bones, muscles and a healthy body. A good diet can also help to protect your child against illness now and in the future.
This is a critical time to complete the weaning process, reducing the amount of milk and establishing the foundations of your child’s diet. A young child's diet needs special care and planning - the need for energy and nutrients is high, but appetites are small and eating habits can be fussy. Their diet must be made up of small, regular, nutrient-dense meals.
Key nutrients and dietary sources
Base your child's intake on the following food groups to help ensure they’re getting all the important nutrients. Remember pre-school children should be allowed to eat according to appetite, as there are no definitive recommendations on portion sizes for this age group. At this age, children are often good at regulating their appetite.
There's no need to rely on pre-prepared toddler foods. If the family diet is healthy, children can just have family food.
1. At least one kind of starchy carbohydrate, such as bread, rice, pasta, noodles, cereals or potatoes, should be served with all meals.
Young children have small appetites, so fibre-rich carbohydrates can be bulky and inhibit the absorption of some minerals. Gradually introduce higher fibre carbohydrate foods, such as wholewheat pasta and brown rice, so that by the time children are five, they're eating the same fibre-rich foods as the rest of the family.
2. Fruit and vegetables should be eaten often. Aim for at least five servings a day, where a serving is about a handful in size.
Use fruit in puddings and as snacks
Frozen and canned fruit and vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh varieties
Vegetables can be eaten raw or cooked (serve crunchy rather than very soft to preserve the vitamins and minerals)
If vegetables aren't a favourite, try hiding them by pureeing in to soups, sauces, casseroles and pizza toppings
3. Milk and dairy foods are an important source of calcium. Your child should be having about one pint (500 to 600ml) of milk a day.
Use full-fat varieties; semi-skimmed may be given from the age of two if the overall diet contains enough energy and nutrients
Milk can be used on cereals or in drinks, puddings and sauces
Cheese, fromage frais or yoghurt can be given instead of some milk
Grated cheese, cheese spread or cheese portions can be used on sandwiches or toast
Try yoghurts as a pudding or snack between meals, served alone or with fruit
4. Meat, fish and alternatives should be eaten once or twice a day.
Minced beef, turkey, chicken and pork should be cooked slowly to ensure it's soft and tender
The Food Standards Agency recommends at least two servings of fish a week, one of which should be oily. But don't give your child more than four servings of oily fish a week for boys and two servings a week for girls. Shark, swordfish or marlin should also be avoided, as these contain high levels of mercury, which might affect a child's developing nervous system
Use eggs, either boiled, in sandwiches, as omelettes or scrambled
Try different beans and pulses, such as lentils, baked beans, peas and chickpeas