We are what we eat! Deciding what to eat and drink has a big impact on our overall health and the way we feel. The right food, the right portion sizes and the right balance makes a big difference. If you’re worried about your health now, or how being overweight could affect you in the future, there are many ways to make small changes to your diet and how active you are. There’s no quick or easy fix, but there is lots of help and support.
Money is tight so I want tips about eating on a budget.
- Write a shopping list – look in the cupboard and get ideas about what to cook for the week. Make a list of extra things you need. Easy Meals app is a great way to eat foods that are healthier for you. Search recipes by meal time and create shopping lists.
- Try not to shop when hungry. People who shop when hungry are more likely to spend more, especially on less healthy foods, such as high-fat and sugary snacks.
- Download the change4life food scanner app so you can make choices as you shop
- Frozen fruit and veg – can save you time as pre-cut and don’t have to worry about it going off
- Add veg or lentils to your meet dishes to make them go further
- Meat free Monday - try for 1 or 2 meat free meals a week (cheaper and healthier)
- Eat leftovers for lunch
- Freeze unused bread
- Food banks – There are lots of foodbanks, membership pantries, food clubs, meal providers and a few pay-as-you-feel and pay-forward places to eat across Greater Manchester. Check out this map for foodbanks near you www.gmpovertyaction.org
- Healthy Start - With Healthy Start you can get coupons to exchange for free vitamins, weekly vouchers to buy milk, fresh or plain frozen fruit and vegetables, or infant formula milk
- Pregnant or have children under the age of four? You could qualify if you're on benefits, or if you're pregnant and under 18. www.healthystart.nhs.uk/
Find out how to eat healthily with limited time.
- Frozen fruit and veg – can save you time as it is pre-cut and you don’t have to worry about it going off
- Eat leftovers for lunch
- Try making a big batch of food and freezing it in smaller portions to eat on busier days
- Speak with friends and neighbours – can you take it in turns and cook for each other one night?
- If you’re buying ready cooked meals – look out for the healthier options (less salt, less sugar, less or better meat)
Want to feel more confindent cooking?
- You could message a friend and swap recipe ideas? Or organise a ‘cook-off’ with a group of friends?
- Good food is very affordable if you know what to cook and how- Find out about local cooking courses in your areas.
- Cracking Good Food deliver weekly bespoke 2 hour cooking programmes in your community bringing new skills and a love of good food for all. crackinggoodfood.org
- They start by asking you what YOU want to cook and then go from there.
- Everyone cooks and eats together. A lovely way to bring communities together through food and well-being.
- You will cook with food from Fareshare Greater Manchester to make use of surplus unwanted food, but most importantly teach those skills to be resourceful and creative with what you have
Tasty meals my kids will enjoy too
Tips for making tasty meals that kids will eat!
Free Easy Meals app is a great way to eat foods that are healthier for you. Search recipes by meal time and create shopping lists.
Snack time - Instead of snacking on sweet treats, why not try to snack on a handful of nuts and seeds? They are rich in vitamins and minerals and provide protein and unsaturated fat.
Most of us probably don't think about portion size when we eat - it typically depends on what we would usually have, how hungry we feel and how much is in a pack or on our plate. But having a healthy, balanced diet is about getting the right types of foods and drinks in the right amounts. The Find your balance guide to portion size aims to help you find the right balance for you - it's not only about eating less, its also about eating differently!
There are 3 resources you can download from the nutrition website www.nutrition.org.uk
- Find your balance one-page simple guide - perfect for putting on the fridge
- Find your balance booklet with example portion sizes and an example of portions for meals and snacks across a day
- Find your balance full portion list with details of portion sizes for a range of foods as well as more information and FAQs
Ask your takeaway/local food outlet if they can offer healthy options.
Remember if you already eat a healthy, balanced diet, a one-off indulgent meal out, won’t make much difference to your health overall. But if it’s one of many, think about how you can make healthier choices to avoid foods high in sugar and salt:
- Watch out for hidden calories. For example, salads may sound like a healthy option, but if it contains lots of croutons, fried, battered or breaded meat, cheese or high fat dressing (e.g. Caesar or French dressing), then it can be as high in calories as any of the other menu options. Ask for dressings and sauces to come separately so you can control how much you add
- Avoid items described as ‘fried’, ‘deep fried’, ‘buttered’, ‘breaded’ or ‘battered’ or those containing a creamy or cheese based sauce, as these are likely to be high in saturated fat and calories. Instead select items that have been boiled, baked, steamed, stir fried or grilled or those containing tomato or vegetable based sauces/accompaniments
- Meals containing a lot of pastry (e.g. double crusted pies) are typically high in fat, particularly saturated fat. Instead, if you do fancy a pie go for ‘top crust’ pies with just a pastry lid or pies topped with mash
- Try asking whether the restaurant will adapt dishes and swap elements of a dish. It’s always worth asking and not usually a problem to replace chips or sides in creamy sauces like macaroni cheese or dauphinoise potatoes with a baked potato/new potatoes, salad or vegetables or steamed rice instead
- You can also pick lighter dressings such as those based on yogurt, balsamic vinegar or lemon juice (see table in Food on the go section) and vegetable based sauces in dishes like pasta instead of creamy ones
- Try fruit or fruit sorbet for dessert. If you fancy something more indulgent why not share it?
Grow your own / buy local
There's never been a better time to plant a few seeds and join the Incredible revolution. All you need is a bit of the great outdoors and a little time
Where can I plant them? There are a number of surprising locations where communities have grown local produce, allowing residents to help themselves.
- Unused grass verges
- Health centres
- Job centres
- Fire and police stations
- Train stations
- Guided bus way
You could speak with your local councillor or local businesses and identify other pieces of land suitable for growing fruit, vegetables and herbs.
Veg Box People is helping to build the market for organic veg grown in the North West; sourcing largely from the most local veg growers to Manchester. From Stockport tomatoes and mange tout to Knutsford kale and fennel – this is a truly local box scheme! vegpeople If you live near Wigan then check out incredible edibles
A healthy food plate looks colourful – with a good balance of vegetables, grains and a moderate amount of unsaturated fats, meat and dairy. Having a good variety of these foods every day leaves less room for foods that are high in unsaturated fat and sugar - a leading cause of weight gain.
Eat less salt, less sugar. Colourful mix of vegetables.
Keep a food diary - Many of us don’t realise how much food we eat in a day, as we often pick up snacks without thinking about them. By keeping a food diary throughout the day, you’ll see exactly what you’re eating and when.
You can then see which parts of your diet you should reduce or cut out, and what kind of food swaps you could make for healthier mealtimes.
When you’re focused on losing weight and start dieting, you may want to lose as much weight as you can, as quickly as possible. However, shedding pounds too quickly can be harmful to your health, making you feel tired, unwell or causing other medical problems.
Focus on losing a little amount over a longer period. Crash diets can be dangerous, and are ineffective in the long term. Instead, build habits that will help you keep the weight off long-term.
Shopping well and choosing healthier food and drink choices outside the home (to recognise the reality that many people don’t cook). www.nhs.uk/live-well
The most well-known food bank service, The Trussell Trust, now has over 55 distribution points in Greater Manchester but there are many more food banks as well as membership pantries, food clubs, meal providers and a few pay-as-you-feel and pay-forward places to eat across the city region. Check out this map for foodbanks near you www.gmpovertyaction.org
Veg Box People is helping to build the market for organic veg grown in the NorthWest; sourcing largely from the most local veg growers to Manchester. From Stockport tomatoes and mange tout to Knutsford kale and fennel – this is a truly local box scheme!
Veg Box People connects Manchester residents with some of the freshest most local organic produce around, and by delivering to community ‘hubs’ rather than individual homes it saves on transport, means customers don’t have to wait in for delivery, and keeps the scheme really affordable - currently delivering to the University of Manchester, Work for Change in Hulme and Bridge 5 Mill in Ancoats.