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NHS: Change food-buying habits

03 January 2012

The NHS says families can save more than £1,500 a year by planning their weekly shop better, according to a report in the Telegraph

The research originates from research by the Department of Health, the key to reducing the amount spent on food is to buy less takeaways and have more regular meals. By doing this, families can save as much as £1,500 a year.

In 2012 the NHS says it plans to launch a Change4Life Supermeals campaign. Its website currently includes different sections, specically Change4Life for families, and Change4Life for adults.

The website runs a question and answer page, of which the Q&A below is an example:

My kids have been used to having as many sweets and biscuits as they like. How can I start saying ’no’ now?
The best policy is probably honesty, as long as your kids are old enough to understand reason. So sit them down and explain that sometimes the things we like to eat are not good for us and can make us ill in later life, so we shouldn’t eat too many of them.

Explain that you’re all going to try together, as a family, to eat more healthily and you’d like them to help you do this. If they feel involved in choosing and preparing more healthy snacks, and helping to decide on nutritious meals, they’ll be much more likely to stick to the new plan.

It also offers tips on keeping your calories down, such as the below 'drink swap' list.

Soft drink swaps
Coffee swap
Swap high-calorie coffee drinks like whole-milk latte or cappucino for drinks made with 1% or skimmed milk. Instead of syrups, try a sprinkle of cinnamon on the top to add flavour. And avoid adding sugar, if you can.

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).

Reject the refills!
If you're eating out, some restaurants offer free refills of sugary drinks with meals, which can make it easy to consume more calories during your meal than you would normally do. Try asking for a jug of water to have on the table instead of going for a refill – tap water is free too!

Cold water swap...
Keep a jug of water in the fridge for a refreshing, and cheap, drink. Instead of adding cordial, make water more exciting by adding a slice of lemon, watermelon, lime or a splash of fruit juice.

... hot water swap!
You could try adding ginger, lemon and honey to hot water – or swap for a herbal tea instead.

Milk shake swap
Again, when you make a milkshake, swap whole milk for 1%, skimmed or semi-skimmed milk.

Smoothie swap
Smoothies can be healthy but they can also be high in calories.

Compare the labels and choose the smoothie with the fewest calories.
Read more about food labelling
Choose smoothies that are made from fruit alone and don't contain added yogurt or honey.
Try our delicious and healthy strawberry and banana smoothie recipe.
Pop swap
Instead of sugary fizzy drinks go for sparkling water with a slice of lemon or a dash of fruit juice, or even 'diet' versions.

Energy drink aware
Energy and sports drinks can contain a lot of calories - check the label.
Read more about food labelling

Juice swap
Even 100% unsweetened fruit juice contains a lot of naturally occurring sugars, so try diluting it with water. Fruit juice is best kept to mealtimes - it's better for your teeth that way too!

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