Mr Williamson, Conservative MP for South Staffordshire, will meet experts including former welfare reform minister Frank Field, co-founder of Feeding Britain, which runs 19 food projects across the UK, to discuss a universal system for all those eligible. Data collated by the charity, show more than two million 53 per cent of these are under the age of five, up from 51 per cent a year earlier.
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And seven in 10 are from working families. Meals and More discovered that less than half 49 per cent of the public have heard of holiday hunger. Its poll of 2, adults also found that, once aware, nearly eight in 10 78 per cent expressed concern and three-quarters 74 per cent believed the Government should provide more funding to tackle child poverty. We know children are going hungry and yet we are failing to adequately address the problem.
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Last week, Mr Guinness met a year-old boy who was bribed by criminal gangs to sell drugs in exchange for food. Elsewhere, in a deprived area of north London, he says children as young as 12 routinely scavenge the bins at night for food. Mr Guinness also recently worked in a primary school where an eight-year-old boy chewed and ate toilet paper to stave off hunger pains.
Mr Guinness said schoolchildren swap food in exchange for toys, a ride on a bike or errands. When cutting down on dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt, you need to find other calcium substitutes, as cutting out an entire food group is never a good idea. Getting to grips with what you can and can't eat on the diet can be time-consuming, particularly in the beginning. The theory of the alkaline diet is that eating certain foods can help maintain the body's ideal acidity levels to improve overall health. But the body carefully maintains its pH balance called homeostasis regardless of the food we eat.
Any weight loss is likely to be because you are being careful about what you are eating, reducing high-fat and high-sugar foods as well as overall calories. There's no calorie counting and no limits on portions.
You're encouraged to eat 3 meals and 2 snacks a day, and follow an exercise plan. People who have more than 10lb to lose start with phase 1. This is a 2-week rapid weight loss regime where you eat lean protein, including meat, fish and poultry, as well as some low-GI vegetables and unsaturated fats.
If you can avoid phase 1 and start on phase 2, there are fewer dietary restrictions in the rest of the plan than some other popular diets. After phase 1, the diet broadly follows the basic principles of healthy eating. No major food groups are eliminated, and plenty of fruit, veg and low-GI carbs are recommended. The severe dietary restrictions of phase 1 may leave you feeling weak, and you'll miss out on some vitamins, minerals and fibre. You may initially experience side effects such as bad breath, a dry mouth, tiredness, dizziness, insomnia, nausea and constipation.
The first 2 weeks are the most difficult to get through. But this won't be all fat: some of the weight loss will include water and carbs, both of which will be replaced when you begin eating more normally.
Once you get past the initial phase, the diet follows the basic principles of healthy eating and should provide the nutrients you need to stay healthy. Slimming World's weight loss plan encourages you to swap high-fat foods for naturally filling low-fat ones. There are additional healthy extras, such as milk, cheese, cereals and wholemeal bread.
There's no calorie counting, no foods are banned and you're still allowed the occasional treat. You can get support from fellow slimmers at weekly group meetings and follow an exercise plan to become gradually more active. The plan is designed to help you lose 1 to 2lb a week.
From bad to worse
No foods are banned, so meals offer balance and variety, and are family-friendly. There is one main plan, called Extra Easy, which is flexible. The "Body Magic" booklet provided offers ideas to help you raise your activity levels, and meeting as a group can provide valuable support. But while following the Free Foods list, you may choose to eat more lean protein foods and starchy carbohydrate foods than recommended, as these are unrestricted, and this would limit any weight loss if you went over your daily calorie requirements.
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Higher energy treat foods are still allowed, but in small quantities. They're known as "syns", which is short for synergy but the similarity to the word "sin" won't be lost on anyone.
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The group meetings encourage members to share successes, ideas and recipes with each other, but they may not appeal to everyone. The web-based programme may be helpful for others. The list of low-energy, filling foods can help to promote a healthy, varied and balanced diet including plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Members gain an appreciation of which foods are higher in energy and should therefore be limited. This is helpful for long-term healthy eating. It uses SlimFast's range of products. The plan recommends 3 snacks a day from an extensive list including crisps and chocolate , 2 meal-replacement shakes or bars, and 1 regular meal taken from a list of recipes on the SlimFast website.
You can stay on the diet for as long as you want, depending on your weight loss goal. Once reached, you're advised to have 1 meal-replacement shake a day, up to 2 low-fat snacks, and 2 healthy meals. The plan is convenient, as the products take the guesswork out of portion control and calorie counting. On their own, meal-replacement diets do little to educate people about their eating habits and change their behaviour. You may find it hard to get your 5 A Day of fruit and veg without careful planning.
The SlimFast plan can be useful to kickstart your weight loss regime, but it's important that you make full use of the online support to learn about the principles of healthy eating and how to manage everyday food and drink.
Food labels - NHS
LighterLife Lite, for those with a BMI of 25 to 30, involves eating 3 food packs a day, plus 1 meal from a list of approved foods. There's a new LighterLife Fast Plan based on the intermittent fasting plan. The meal plans can lead to very rapid weight loss, and you're advised to see your GP before starting. How long you stay on the diet depends on how much weight you have to lose. The counselling can help you understand your relationship with food, so hopefully you can make lasting changes to keep the weight off for good.
With the meal replacements, there's no weighing or measuring, so it's a hassle-free approach to weight loss. Having a break from real food may kick start your weight loss, and the initial rapid weight loss can be motivating. Surviving on a strict diet of shakes, soups and other meal replacements isn't much fun and can feel socially isolating. Rapid weight loss can be motivating, but it's unsustainable. People often regain weight after the diet and, overall, research suggests there's little difference between a VLCD and conventional weight loss after 1 to 2 years.
A VLCD that involves eating 1, calories or fewer should not be followed for more than 12 continuous weeks. The WeightWatchers Flex programme is based on the SmartPoints system, which gives a value to foods and drink based on protein, carbs, fat and fibre content. There's no limit to the amount of fruit and most veg you can eat as part of a list of zero-points foods.
There's a focus on keeping active and choosing exercise that you enjoy as a means of earning points, and there are plenty of recipes to help with the healthy eating weight loss plan. The weekly meetings and confidential weigh-ins provide support and extra motivation to encourage long-term behaviour change. The plan is designed to help you lose up to 2lb a week. No foods are banned, so you can eat and drink what you want provided you stick to your points allowance.
The SmartPoints system is flexible, easier to follow for some than calorie counting and less restrictive than other plans. Some of the zero-points foods are low in fat and good sources of protein, and can be quite filling. But although some may be difficult to eat in large quantities such as lean chicken or eggs , these foods will still contribute to overall calorie intake so should probably not be completely unlimited.
WeightWatchers Flex is generally well balanced and can be a foundation for long-term changes in dietary habits.
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