Healthy eating for families

Change for life. Eat well, move more, live longer.

Without realising it, we’re all eating too much sugar, saturated fat and salt. And that includes our kids.

You might think that childhood obesity is hard to ignore. But even if children seem fine on the outside, eating unhealthily can lead to the build-up of harmful fat on the inside that we can’t see. This can lead to serious diseases in the future, like heart disease, type 2 diabetes or even some cancers.

Recipes and snacks

Stuck for healthy ideas? Try these for inspiration:

  • Mix it up at mealtimes - take the first step towards cooking quick and easy meals. Every week you’ll receive cheap meal ideas so you can feed your whole family for a fiver
  • Get cooking today - download the Smart Recipes app and discover 160 quick and tasty meals ideas (there’s something for even the fussiest eaters)
  • Quick and easy lunchboxes - cheap and super easy tips for hassle-free packed lunches
  • Sugar swaps for kids - help your child cut back with great sugar swap ideas
  • Snack ideas - helping you choose snacks that can reduce your sugar consumption

Healthy eating tips

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 means that it’s very easy to eat too much. Try these ideas to help you give your kids the right amount of food.

  • Me-size bowls - plates and bowls are bigger these days and a child-size portion may not look like enough. Try getting child-sized ones for the kids, as it will make it easier to tell if they’re getting the right amount.
  • Snack time - fresh fruit and veg are always a great choice for a snack but if you’re out and about and want to buy packaged snacks, look out for '100 calorie snacks, 2 a day max'. It's not about calorie counting but a guide to help you make quick decisions on packaged snacks when faced with lots of choice. Try these healthy snack ideas.
  • 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.
  • Start small - 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!
  • Water regularly - if the kids say they’re hungry while you’re cooking, try giving them a glass of water to fill the gap rather than a snack that could ruin their appetite.

Babies and young children


Start4Life gives parents all the advice they need to help their children be healthy in the first few years of life and beyond. Just like Change4Life, it offers free support, hints, tips and videos. So if you’re expecting a little one, or you’re a new parent, visit the Start4Life website and sign up.

Healthy Start Scheme

Getting your baby into healthy habits early on gives them the best start in life and reduces their risk of poor health later on. There’s plenty you can do – from making sure you give little ones the best food for their age, to helping them develop strong muscles and bones.

With the new and improved Healthy Start Scheme you get a free prepaid Mastercard which is reloaded with money every 4 weeks to spend on milk, plain fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, and infant formula milk. The card is posted to your home. The card also entitles you to free vitamins.

The new scheme has now begun, and paper vouchers are no longer being issued. If you were getting paper vouchers, you need to apply for the new scheme to continue to get the entitlements. You should have received a letter from the NHS, inviting you to apply for the new scheme and we encourage you to apply as soon as possible if you qualify.

You could qualify for the Healthy Start Scheme if you're on benefits and are at least 10 weeks pregnant or have kids under 4. If you're under 18 and pregnant you automatically qualify even if you are not on any benefits. Find out if you qualify.

To sign up, apply online or call Healthy Start on 0300 330 7010. You can also visit your local children's centre or visit your local library if you would like assistance to complete the application. Unfortunately, it is not possible to apply for the scheme via a paper application.

For more information visit the healthy start NHS website or speak to your midwife, health visitor or GP.