Make healthy changes one step at a time
How can I make my diet healthier?
Experts agree that a well-balanced diet is the best one to follow to lose weight, avoid gaining weight, and reduce the risk of many serious conditions including liver disease.
Read detailed information about a well-balanced diet including advice on what to eat and drink.
A balanced diet is a way of thinking about everything you eat and drink. Remember that for many foods and drinks it’s about how much you have and how often rather than whether you have them at all. The odd slice of cake or pizza won’t hurt, if you eat and drink healthily most of the time. The big picture is more important than any one small detail.
Changing things you do on a daily basis, like what you eat and drink, can be hard – even when you really want to. The best advice is to make small changes you can stick with. Pick one thing to change at a time. When you’re used to it, add another small change. Like stepping stones, all the small changes add together to get you where you want to be.
Try one of our tips to start you off. Pick one you like the sound of and think about how you will do it. It can help to give yourself a specific goal like how many times a week you will eat something. Don’t worry if it doesn’t always go smoothly – take it one step at a time and keep going.
- Plan your meals in advance, it helps you think through what you will eat and when. Make it easier to stick to by including foods you like and that are easy for you to shop for and prepare.
- Cut down on ready meals and takeaways. You don’t have to cook everything from scratch, but look for ways to eat fewer packaged and processed foods. That way you’re more in control of what you eat.
- Know your portions and use scales, jugs, spoons or packet markings to help you use the right amount. Using smaller crockery and serving spoons helps control portions.
- Watch out for sugar in drinks. A can of full sugar soft drink can have 35g of sugar – that’s more than the amount in 2 jam doughnuts! Cut down on sugary drinks or have versions with no added sugar instead.
- Write a shopping list to make sure you have everything you need. A list also helps you resist offers on unhealthy foods and drinks.
- Stock up on your 5 a day. Frozen, tinned, and dried fruit and veg all count. And they’re usually cheaper and easier to store than fresh produce. Watch out for added sugar.
- Cook food with little or no added fat. Give grilling, baking, boiling, steaming and casseroling a go instead of frying or roasting. If you need to add fat, oils are usually healthier than solid fats.
- Swap some or all of the meat in a curry, chilli or pasta sauce for beans, lentils or extra veg. Making meat go further saves money too.
- Look for ways to add an extra portion of fruit or vegetables to every meal. Try crunchy carrots and celery with lunch. Or cooking frozen peas along with your pasta or rice for dinner.
- Serve yourself a portion of snacks such as crisps, nuts or popcorn. It’s easy to lose track of how much you’re eating from bigger sharing bags.
Download some of our top tips for eating more healthily – either for yourself or a friend.
How can I get more physically active?
Being physically active is a great way to help manage your weight. It helps reduce the risk of conditions including liver disease, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. And it’s good for your mental health too.
The NHS recommends doing 2 different types of activity – moderate aerobic activity (‘cardio’) and strengthening exercises. If you can’t do the recommended amount at the moment, don’t worry. Make a start by doing what you can. Walking and seated exercises are both good ways to get started. As your body gets used to being more active, build up your activity levels by pushing yourself a bit harder or keeping going for longer. Check with your doctor if you have any medical conditions and are worried about what activity you can do.
Aim for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. That’s the same as doing 30 minutes on 5 days of the week. You can break it up however you like – just 10 minutes at a time counts. You should feel a bit out of breath and warm.
Do strengthening exercises that work all your major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) on 2 days a week. This could be things like yoga, pilates, working with weights or resistance bands, or even carrying heavy shopping.
Remember that any activity is better than none. Do some activity every day, even if it’s just 10 minutes. Try one of our tips to get moving more.
- Walking more is a great way to start getting active. It’s free. You don’t need any special equipment. And you can choose when and where you do it.
- Try out new activities with free taster sessions and find something you really enjoy doing.
- Walk or cycle for local trips instead of using the car or public transport.
- Get free ideas and step-by-step instructions for simple activities to do at home from the NHS How Fit Today website.
- Get you friends and family involved. You’ll be more likely to stick to your plans and you’ll have more fun.
- Or use your activity sessions to enjoy some well-deserved me time.
- If you’re ready to step it up, try the free NHS Couch to 5k programme.
- Don’t forget your kit! Pack your bag the night before and leave it by the front door.
Download our factsheet with tips for getting started with physical activity – it’s part of our information on NAFLD but everyone can use it.
Treating NAFLD with a healthy diet and physical activity booklet.
Whether you have NAFLD or not, this booklet has detailed information and plenty of advice to help you eat more healthily and get more active.DOWNLOAD