Our nutrition needs change throughout our lifetime. What we eat and drink every day has a big impact on our health.
Click on the titles below to find out more:
Nutrition During Pregnancy
Breastfeeding is very important to the health of both mother and baby. Mothers who breastfeed are at less risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
Your breastmilk is the only food specifically designed for your baby. As well as having all the nutrients your baby needs to grow and develop, human milk has very special ingredients such as antibodies, hormones and stem cells to help protect your baby now and in the future.
Benefits of breastfeeding
Antibodies in breast milk stimulate your baby’s immune system and help protect them from infection and other illnesses including:
- Stomach infections, vomiting and diarrhoea
- Ear and chest infections
- Kidney infections
- Cow’s milk protein allergy, asthma and eczema
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Childhood diabetes
- Childhood obesity
– Breast milk changes as your baby grows so they get what they need to develop.
– Breastfeeding helps the development of your baby’s eyesight.
– Their sucking action at your breast also helps their jaw and mouth development.
– Children and adults breastfed as babies are less likely to have obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Eating well whilst breastfeeding
You don’t need to eat anything special while you’re breastfeeding, but it’s a good idea for you to eat a healthy diet.
Healthy eating whilst breastfeeding is no different from at any other time of your life. To make sure you are getting a good balance of nutrients for you and your baby, click here to find out more.
For more information, click here
Welcome Here Scheme
The Breastfeeding Welcome Here Scheme is an initiative that makes it easier for mums to recognise places where they can breastfeed their baby when they are out and about.
All across Northern Ireland, there are cafes, restaurants, shops and other businesses that are happy to have breastfeeding families on their premises. Many have joined the Breastfeeding Welcome Here Scheme.
To find out more about the scheme and find locations near you, click here.
Breastfeeding is very important to the health of both mother and baby. Mothers who breastfeed are at less risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from infections and allergies, and are also less likely to develop childhood diabetes and obesity.
Northern Ireland has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in Europe. Although half of all new mums start breastfeeding, many quickly stop. This is often because they feel there is a lack of support, particularly when they want to feed their baby outside the home. Breastfeeding should be part of everyday life and can be done very discreetly.
Every business knows the value of repeat customers and word-of-mouth recommendation. Breastfeeding mums who feel welcome will come back to your business and will also tell their friends. Joining the scheme gives you an opportunity to boost your business and benefit your local community at the same time.
For further information on membership criteria and how to join, click here.
Feeding babies and children under age 5
Young children have a high requirement for energy and nutrition relative to their small size.
All nutrients are important at this age but protein, iron, calcium, vitamin D and fibre are particularly important. Milk (breast or formula) is all that a baby needs for the first 6 months of life – breastfeeding is recommended.
Weaning can be an exciting and sometimes daunting time for parents as they introduce their baby to the world of solid food.
Research shows that babies don’t need anything but breastmilk or infant formula for the first six months of life. This is because babies’ digestive systems and kidneys are still developing. Introducing solids too soon may increase the risk of asthma, eczema, digestive problems, allergies and obesity in later life.
Every baby is different but there are three clear signs that together show your baby is ready for some solid foods alongside breastmilk or infant formula:
- Baby can stay in a sitting position and hold his head steady.
- Baby can coordinate his eyes, hands and mouth so that he can look at the food, pick it up and put it in his mouth all by himself.
- Baby can swallow food (a baby who is not ready will push food back out of his mouth).
The leaflet below will guide you through this developmental stage and help you introduce a range of tastes and textures to your baby. You can download/print the leaflet here: Weaning Made Easy
The Community Food and Nutrition Team offer a monthly weaning workshop via Zoom. This session covers all aspects of introducing solids to your baby and is open to everyone living within the Western Trust area. Sessions run on the last Wednesday of each month at 10.30am.
To register to attend, click here.
Nutrition for the Under 5s
It’s important that children eat a healthy, well balanced diet to ensure they get enough energy and essential nutrients to support growth and development. From age 2, children can begin to follow the principles of The Eatwell Guide.
- Include a variety of white, brown and wholegrain carbohydrate foods such as breads, potatoes, pasta and rice. Give fibre in moderation.
- Aim for 5 child-sized servings of fruits and vegetables per day (fresh, frozen, tinned and dried all count).
- Offer 2-3 portions of dairy foods (milk, cheese and plain yoghurt) each day. Children aged 1 – 2 years should take whole cows milk. This can be changed to semi-skimmed milk from aged 2. Children under the age of 5 should never be given skimmed milk.
- Dairy alternatives (if using) should be fortified with calcium and unsweetened.
- Include 2 – 3 portions of protein foods each day (red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans or pulses). Limit processed meats such as chicken nuggets, sausages, burgers etc as these are often high in salt and saturated fat.
- Limit the amount of foods high in saturated fat, salt and sugar such as biscuits, crisps, sweets and fizzy drinks.
For a complete guide to nutrition for the under 5s and portion sizes, watch the webinar below hosted by a Registered Nutritionist: Feeding the Under 5s – YouTube
Print/Download Getting a Good Start 1-5 year olds for further information.
It’s normal for children to sometimes refuse food. This can be due to a number of reasons. For information and tips to tackle fussy eating, watch this webinar from a Paediatric Dietitian: Fussy Eating Webinar – YouTube
Children and Young people
For guidance on nutrition throughout childhood, a range of webinars are available to watch:
Healthy Eating During the Primary School Years – YouTube
Healthy Lunchbox and Snack Ideas – YouTube
Nutrition for Teenagers – YouTube
The START campaign
START is a public health campaign from safefood, the Departments of Health in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, Healthy Ireland, the Health Service Executive and the Public Health Agency.
Research shows that children are becoming overweight earlier and earlier, with about 6% of three year olds now clinically obese. As a child, being overweight can cause joint and breathing problems, as well as psychological problems such as low self-esteem and lack of confidence. Most worryingly, an obese child is more likely to be obese as an adult which leads to serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.
The START campaign aims to support families to take small steps to eating healthier food and becoming more active by providing practical support and information to help parents.
For information on how to start making changes, visit:
Healthy Eating for Adults
A balanced diet is eating more of what our body needs and less of what it doesn’t. We can still eat a wide range of delicious foods, while keeping an eye on our intake of sugar, saturated fat and salt. No single food provides all the nutrients we need, so it’s important to eat a wide variety of foods.
Use the Eatwell Guide to help you get the balance right. It demonstrates how much of each different food group you should be aiming to eat each day.
The Eatwell Guide is suitable for use with children over the age of five, adolescents and most adults and helps us understand and enjoy healthy eating. It is not appropriate for babies, children under 5 years, frail older people and people who are seriously ill. There are specific nutritional requirements for various groups including children under 5, pregnant and breastfeeding women and older adults
For more information on how to achieve a healthy well balanced diet using the Eatwell Guide, watch this webinar hosted by a Dietitian: Healthy Diet, Healthier You – YouTube
Eating Well as you Age
As we get older, a good diet and keeping active can help us age well and prevent potential health problems. Following the principles of the Eatwell Guide can help ensure a healthy and well balanced diet. For more information, watch this webinar hosted by a Dietitian: Eating Well as You Age Webinar – YouTube
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Obesity is one of the most important public health challenges facing Northern Ireland today. 61% of adults are either overweight (37%) or obese (24%). This has a negative impact on both our physical and mental health.
To find out whether your weight is increasing your risk of developing serious illnesses, including information on measuring your waist and Body Mass Index (BMI) and tips on healthy eating for weight loss and physical activity, visit: www.choosetolivebetter.com
For top tips on maintaining a healthier weight, watch this webinar hosted by a Dietitian: Top Tips for a Healthier Weight – YouTube
For support to help you lose weight, check out the NHS weight loss app available here: Lose weight – Better Health – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
The ‘Public Health Dietitians’ YouTube channel hosts a wealth of evidence based nutrition guidance from Dietitians and Registered Nutritionists, including webinars and recipe videos.
Click the links below to watch:
How to Save Money on Your Food Shop
For meal time inspiration, check out this library of simple, easy and affordable recipes:
Making the Most of Your Slow Cooker Recipe
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for everyone, to help develop and maintain healthy bones. Although many people get enough vitamin D, some, need more and should take a vitamin D supplement. Most of our vitamin D comes from sunlight, so even a healthy well balanced diet that provides all the other vitamins and nutrients needed, it is unlikely to provide enough vitamin D.
- Daily vitamin D supplements are recommended for the following groups:
- Breastfed babies from birth to one year of age (babies fed infant formula only need a vitamin D supplement when receiving less than 500ml of infant formula per day)
- Children aged 1 – 4 years
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- People who are confined indoors for long periods and those who cover their skin for cultural reasons
- People who have dark skin (e.g. those of African, African-Caribbean and South Asian origin).
Everyone aged 5 years and over should consider taking a daily supplement of vitamin D, particularly during the winter months (October to March). For more information about vitamin D supplements and the amount to take click here to view/download/print.
Food parcel and meal provision support
The Food Parcel and Meal Provision Support booklet has been put together by the Western Trust Community Food and Nutrition Team in partnership with Derry and Strabane District Council and contains both nutrition and food safety information to assist local food banks and organisations who may be making up and/ or preparing food parcels for their local community.
This document will help with tips to make food parcels as healthy as possible and contains food safety advice among other key pieces of information.
In addition to this document, the Community Food and Nutrition Team can also provide ‘Making the most of your Food Parcel’ recipe books. To read the Food Provision Support booklet click here.
Health Improvement, Equality and Involvement Department
For more information please contact the Health Improvement, Equality and Involvement Department on;
Phone: 028 7186 5127
Western Trust Services