Introduction to healthy eating and weight
Being a healthy weight is important for good health and a healthy weight usually means being within a set range that compares your weight to your height. A healthy weight is calculated using a body mass index (BMI) score in adults and a BMI centile in children.
To find out your BMI, NHS choices has an easy to use calculator.
Eating a nutritious and balanced diet is key to maintaining a healthy weight, and to helping us generally feel better overall. Some of the other benefits include:
- increased energy and stamina
- improved sleep and concentration
- a positive impact on your mood and well-being
- helps you to maintain a healthy body weight
- lowers your risk of developing chronic health conditions such as heart disease and cancer
If you are an adult and want to access local support to achieve a healthy weight please visit the weight management pages of the Active North Tyneside website.
If you would like to access weight management support for children please visit the Healthy4Life pages of the Active North Tyneside website.
The Eatwell Guide
Eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions and staying hydrated can help you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
The Eatwell Guide shows that to have a healthy, balanced diet, you should try to:
- eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
- base meals on higher fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta
- have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks)
- eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein
- choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat them in small amounts
- drink plenty of fluids (at least six to eight glasses a day)
For further information on how to ensure you are eating a balance diet, visit the NHS website.
High fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) food and food labels
Consuming too many foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt can increase your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. It can also lead to weight gain and tooth decay. These types of foods include sweets, cakes, chocolate, crisps, biscuits, sugary drinks etc. You should try to eat these foods less often, and in small amounts.
Many food products have a ‘traffic light’ label on their packaging. This helps you to easily understand the energy (calories), fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt content in a product. This is very useful when you’re looking to make a healthier choice, or easily compare products at a glance.
Traffic light colours are given to indicate whether a product is high (red), medium (amber) or low (green) in fat, saturates, sugars and salt.
In general, a food or drink that has all or mostly green on the label is a healthier choice. Amber means neither high nor low, so you can eat foods with all or mostly amber on the label most of the time. But any red on the label means the food is high in fat, saturated fat, salt or sugars, and you should limit your intake of these foods and drinks.
For further information on food labels and how to understand them, visit the NHS website.
Giving nothing but breast milk is recommended for about the first six months (26 weeks) of your baby's life. The longer you breastfeed, the longer the protection lasts and the greater the benefits. Breast milk is perfectly designed for your baby and protects a baby from infections and disease.
There is very good evidence that breastfeeding has a significant impact upon the short and long term health of both women and infants.
You can find more support on breastfeeding by visiting the 0-19 Children's Public Health web pages.
Weaning: introducing solid foods to your baby
Your baby should only have breast milk or formula milk before the baby is six months. Once your baby is six months old it is time to introduce them to a range of healthy nutritious food.
Healthy Start is a UK-wide public health scheme that provides financial support for pregnant women and families (subject to eligibility criteria) with their food shopping.
The Healthy Start card can be used to buy things like fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables, as well as vitamins.
Find out more on the 0-19 Children's Public Health web page.
Healthy eating and young people
Defining children as overweight or obese is a complex process, given that children of different ages and sexes grow and develop at different rates. This means that a different method is used for children than for adults
BMI is calculated by dividing a person's weight (in kilograms) by the square of their height (in metres). For children, this is then compared to a reference sample of measurements gathered in 1990, which takes age and sex into consideration.
Find out about a child’s healthy weight on the Better Health Families web pages.
It’s important that children have the right size portion of food for their age, and it’s healthier to first serve them a child-sized portion and after if they’re still hungry, let them ask for more.
Around 30% of the sugar in kids' diets comes from sugary drinks, such as fizzy pop, juice drinks, squashes, cordials, energy drinks and juice. Find out more about sugar on the Better Health Families web pages.
Free recipes and information about child-size portions can be accessed from the Eating Well Recipe Book below.