Doctor's top six tips on how to lead a healthy lifestyle

Joggers in Hyde Park
Exercise is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Credit: PA

Words by ITV News Content Producer Alex Binley

From banning unhealthy snacks being positioned at shop checkouts to the ending of Buy One Get One Free offers on junk food, the government has unveiled a raft of measures in a bid to tackle Britain's bulging waistlines.

Currently in the UK two-thirds of adults and one-third of children are overweight which can lead to a variety of health complications.

While the government's pledge to ban junk food adverts on television before 9pm is unlikely to get Brits shedding the pounds immediately, what simple changes can we make to help us maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle?

Dr Kishan Gandhi, a GP trainee in Gloucestershire who has an interest in childhood obesity, shared his top tips with ITV News.

A breakfast of porridge and fruit is a healthy start to the day. Credit: PA

Start your day with a good breakfast

"Start your day with a good breakfast," advises Dr Gandhi.

Skipping breakfast is unlikely to help you lose weight, instead, being hungry in the morning can lead to snacking and these might not be healthy choices.

A breakfast high in fibre and and low in fat, sugar and salt is a great way to stop you feeling hungry during the morning and give you the nutrients you need.

A breakfast such as porridge with semi-skimmed milk and fruit is a quick and easy example.

Eat the rainbow

A balanced diet is important for maintaining good health, as outlined in the NHS's Eatwell Guide.

Starchy carbohydrates - such as potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and cereals - should make up just over one-third of the food you eat.

The NHS advises choosing higher fibre or wholegrain varieties, such as wholewheat pasta, brown rice or potatoes with their skins on, which help you to feel fuller for longer.

Dr Gandhi explains this can stop you from snacking on unhealthy foods.

Another third of your diet should be fruit and vegetables and you should aim to eat at least five portions each day. These can be fresh, frozen, tinned, dried or juiced.

The remainder of your diet should be made up of dairy products (if you are not vegan), pulses, meat and fish.

Foods which are high in sugar and fat should be kept to a minimum.

Drinking plenty of water helps you to stay hydrated. Credit: PA

Try to avoid eating too much salt or sugar

Adults in the UK should not eat more than 6g of salt per day.

A diet high in salt can cause high blood pressure.

A suggestion would be to cut down on how much salt you add to your cooking and try to avoid ready meals which can be high in salt.

Dr Gandhi advises cooking from fresh where you can.

Eating and drinking too much sugar can lead to weight gain and tooth decay.

Dr Gandhi suggests trying to avoid sugary drinks - maybe opt for a low or no sugar version - don't add sugar to breakfast cereals and cook from scratch as ready meals often contain added sugar.

Food labels can help. Use them to check how much sugar foods contain.

Drink plenty of water

Drinking six to eight glasses of water each day will stop you from becoming dehydrated.

This is in addition to the fluid you get from the food you eat. 

Parkrun is a great way to exercise with other people. Credit: PA

Take part in group or organised exercise

Exercise is incredibly important for both physical and mental health.

Before coronavirus, Dr Gandhi suggested events such as parkrun to his patients in a bid to get them exercising more for both individuals and families.

The weekly event at 9am on Saturdays is a free 5km run which takes place in parks and open spaces across the country.

However, with mass participation events not taking place at the moment due to coronavirus, he suggests downloading an app such as the NHS's Couch to 5k which provides users with a training plan to get them capable of running the distance in under 10 weeks.

"Being part of a structured programme helps to keep you motivated," he explains.

Educate children about food

Dr Gandhi suggests parents try and learn easy and healthy recipes with their children so that both generations have a better knowledge of what they could be eating.

Try and enjoy these cooking sessions and this will help children to want to take an interest in what they eat.

In a bid to get children cooking, Dr Gandhi says he recommends to patients recipes targeted at children such as the Cooking with Kids section on Jamie Oliver's website.

The chef and his team are working to improve child health through their charity Bite Back 2030 which aims to halve childhood obesity in the UK by 2030.

  • Anyone with concerns about their health should make an appointment with their GP who will be able to offer tailored advice.