We were all brought up to finish the food on our plates, but sometimes it’s more than we really need. These days larger portion sizes are also more readily available, which does mean that it’s very easy to eat too much.
Try our simple tips to get you and your family into great healthy eating habits.
Top tips for healthy eating
Love your labels
Food labels can seem a bit boring, but they are the best way of checking what you're eating as they can tell you what's hidden inside the food. Once you know what how to use them, you'll soon be able to make healthier choices when you're shopping.
Read more about food labels
Be calorie smart
Counting calories doesn't have to mean you're on a diet! They are a really handy way of helping you choose balanced meals each day, and not eating more than your body needs.
Check your calories
The Eatwell Guide
The Eatwell Guide is a brilliant idea - it helps you eat a healthy, balanced diet by showing you the different types of foods and drinks we should consume, and how much. Simple! You can use the Eatwell Guide to help you make healthier choices whenever you're:
- deciding what to eat
- at home cooking
- out shopping for groceries
- eating out at a restaurant, café or canteen
- choosing food on the run
Aim to fill your trolley with a healthy balance of different types of food.
The Eatwell Guide doesn't apply to children under two, because they have different nutritional needs. Between the ages of two and five, children should gradually move to eating the same foods as the rest of the family.
Find out more about the Eatwell Guide on NHS Choices
Share packaged foods
Many foods and drinks are packaged for two adults sharing, so if you’re eating by yourself avoid temptation and save some for later. Don’t give a whole one to a child - let them share a bag of crisps, or save some.
Eat a little slower
It takes time for our brains to register we’re full, so try to eat more slowly. If you’re eating with friends or family try pacing yourself to the slowest eater.
Focus on your food
Eating distractedly, such as in front of the TV, means we eat more without noticing or even enjoying it. Swap the TV for the table.
Aim to feel satisfied, not stuffed
Try eating just one plate of food and don’t go back for seconds.
Super start your day
Don’t be tempted to skip breakfast, even if you’re trying to lose weight. If you have a healthy breakfast in the morning you’re less likely to want to snack before lunch.
For some tasty and easy breakfast ideas, see our recipe finder
Mix and match
If you know you’ll be having a proper dinner later, keep an eye on the calories by having a lighter lunch.
Pack it in
Plan ahead and try to take a packed lunch to work or when you are out and about. It can work out cheaper.
See our packed lunch ideas
Spot the difference
Swap a big dinner plate for a smaller one and you’ll have a smaller portion. It will also look as if you have more food on your plate too.
Max your pocket, not your drink!
Extra large whole milk lattes or cappuccinos may seem like value for money, but they also contain more calories. Try swapping for a regular size coffee made with lower fat milk – less calories (and it’ll save you money).
Some special tips to help keep the kids’ portions under control
Lots of the tips above will help the whole family, but try these special ideas to help you make sure you’re giving your kids the right amount of food and help them understand why you’re doing it.
Plates and bowls are bigger these days - a child-size portion may not look like enough. So try getting child-sized ones for the kids; it’ll make it easier to tell if they’re getting the right amount.
Set a regular healthy snack time for mid-morning and afternoon when the kids are home. It helps train their bodies to think regular food is coming, making them less likely to overeat at meal times.
More healthy snack ideas for kids
Get the kids involved
Let the kids watch you serve the meals. This way they’re more likely to understand the different portion sizes for different ages.
Give them less to start with - they can always ask for seconds. You’ll have less waste and they won’t eat too much.
Just a mouthful
If you’re worried about picky eaters not getting a balanced diet, encourage them to try a mouthful of everything on the plate, rather than all of it. You might find they try more things that way.
Clear plate conundrums
Don’t worry if they don’t clear their plate. If they say they’re full, the chances are, they are full!
If the kids say they’re hungry while you’re cooking, try giving them a glass of water or juice to fill the gap rather than a snack that could ruin their appetite.