Healthy eating

Advice and help for adults

Eating healthily is important. What we eat can help to improve mood, reduce the risk of developing conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers and help you manage your weight.

Eating well can be hard with all the stresses of day to day life. This page offers advice and support to help you eat well and stay healthy.

The NHS provides online resources for adults to live well. One You offers healthy meal inspiration along with tips on cooking, shopping and nutrition.

What is healthy?

The NHS’s Eatwell Guide shows the types of food that make up a healthy diet.

You can find out more about eating well as well as top tips on eating well.

Supplements

For most people, eating a healthy, balanced diet based on the NHS's Eatwell Guide should provide all of the nutrients needed to stay healthy. A healthy balanced diet provides you with the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients your body needs, and which you can’t completely get from taking nutritional supplements.

However, at some stages in our lives, we may need to take supplements to make sure we get enough of a particular vitamin or mineral.

Vitamin D is needed to keep bones and muscles healthy. Our bodies make most of our vitamin D when we are exposed to sunlight, but because of coronavirus, many people have been staying at home more. This means we may have less vitamin D than we need. The current UK government advice is that everyone should take a daily 10 microgram vitamin D supplement to protect musculoskeletal health.

There have been some news reports about vitamin and mineral supplements (including vitamin D) reducing the risk of coronavirus. However, the NHS says there is currently insufficient evidence to support this.

If you think you're not getting enough of one or more nutrients and are thinking about taking a supplement, we recommend that you consult your doctor or see a dietitian.

Free vitamin D

Pregnant women, new mums and children under four in the borough can get free vitamin D supplements. Find out about eating well during pregnancy and Southwark’s free vitamin D service.

Low mood or stress and anxiety

If you’re struggling with low mood, stress and anxiety, it can be hard to eat more healthily. Often we reach for “comfort food” and alcoholic drinks to help get us through tough times, but these can make things worse.

Find information and support on improving your mental health and well-being

Understanding what is in the food you buy

Checking the nutrition label on the food that you buy is a good way to compare products and can help you choose healthier foods.

It can be hard to understand what is in the food we buy. The NHS and the British Dietetic Association websites help to explain nutrition labels.

You can also find out more about what is in the food and drink that you are buying with Change4Life’s food scanner app. Please note that this will tell you how much is in the entire packet or jar of food, not portion size.

Alcohol, sugary drinks and your health

Choosing healthy drinks is an important part of a balanced diet. Find out about caffeine, sports drinks and much more.

Some drinks are confusing and can appear healthy, even though they still have a lot of sugar in them. Use the food scanner app to check your drinks, and if in doubt, drink water.

Not only does alcohol affect your mood, and can make you feel low, but it is high in calories. Find out all about drinking alcohol.

If you want to cut back on how much alcohol you drink, this app from the NHS One You service can help you track your drinking and increase your drink-free days.

If you are concerned about the amount that you or someone you know is drinking, you can get advice and support. Find out more about Southwark’s service for people living with alcohol dependency.

Eat well for less - How to get free and low cost food

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive. You can find tips on eating well for less.

You may find our food access pages helpful. Contact our Community Hub for support.

Apps like Olio show who is giving away food and where to collect it from. You can download the app and find out more.

Healthy weight

If you're worried about your weight, you can find help and support.

Recipe and meal ideas

It can be hard to know what to cook. This section provides a range of healthy recipe ideas and tips to help you get started:

Cooking classes

Across the borough, there is a range of Cooking for Beginners classes to help you get cooking for yourself and your family. These are all currently closed due to COVID-19. However, you can try these online cooking classes:

  • check out self-made Chef Jack Monroe’s Lockdown Larder. Jack goes live on Twitter at 5pm each day, responding to pictures of people’s cupboards and coming up with creative, personalised recipe ideas!
  • if you need inspiration for how to use store cupboard and freezer supplies, take a look at Jamie Oliver’s Keep Cooking and Carry On, on Channel 4

Try Southwark’s digital health and wellbeing coach

The Southwark digital health and wellbeing coach offers ways to make a positive change, such as eating healthier.

The digital coach will never tell you what to do; instead, it supports you in thinking about how you might want to make positive changes to your life.

The digital coach has been created by health experts and locals living in the borough who want to make improvements to their health and wellbeing.

You can try the digital coach here.

Dietician service

If you need nutrition advice from a dietician, your GP can refer you to this service. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this service is running online only.

Page last updated: 27 February 2024

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