Healthier eating made easier than ever for Scotland’s families

8 Jan 2015 03:55 PM

Eat Better Feel Better campaign launched to help Scotland’s families make simple changes to the way they shop, cook and eat.

Home cooking in Scotland is declining, according to a new survey commissioned by the Scottish Government, which shows that more families are turning to convenience foods and takeaways due to the pressures of family life.

The research accompanies a new campaign from the Scottish Government which was launched yesterday to inspire and support families with practical tips, advice and tools to help them make simple, quick and cheap changes to how they shop and cook and eat.

The research shows that less than half of Scotland’s mums (47 per cent) consider themselves as very capable cooks, and are happy to cook a meal using fresh or frozen ingredients, without the use of a recipe. However, more than a third of families (35 per cent) are eating takeaway food at least once a week and around one third of families (32 per cent) are eating ready meals at least three times a week.

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt was in Edinburgh to launch the Eat Better Feel Better campaign at Pilton Community Health Project - the first community health project in Scotland – which supports local people to eat more healthily through cooking skills, budgeting and meal planning.

For many mums, the reluctance to cook from scratch is down to a number of obstacles which they see as prohibitive to making healthier meals for their families. Four in ten (42 per cent) think that it costs too much money to shop for and cook healthier family meals, a third (33 per cent) think that it takes too much time, around the same number (31 per cent) say that they’re too busy. A quarter (24 per cent) say that their kids are too fussy.

Speaking at the launch Ms Watt said:

“For many families across Scotland, buying, cooking and eating healthy food can be a real challenge. However, there are many quick and cheap changes that we can make which can lead to significant improvements in our daily diets. From dealing with fussy eaters and shopping on a budget to planning your meals and finding time to cook, Eat Better Feel Better aims to address the various challenges faced by families by providing lots of practical hints, tips and recipes to help families eat more healthily.

“We know that helping children to eat healthier from a young age can help them avoid major illnesses later in life. That’s why we’re working together with retailers and community groups from across the country in getting behind Scotland’s families - to provide the support, encouragement and advice which will help them eat better and ultimately feel better.

Anita Aggarwal, Community Development Manager at Pilton Community Health Project, said:

“It’s great to have a Scottish Government campaign that complements and supports the work that community food and health projects like us are already doing. Pilton has a wealth of local community food projects that link together through the Food for Thought Forum. Because of the dedication and skills of these local residents and agencies, eating well in the area is easier. This campaign should help all these groups reach more local residents.”

Kirsty Day, a 21 year-old student from Edinburgh and a mum of one, was a big fast food fan but following the birth of her son Kelvin almost three years ago, she decided that she didn’t want him to be brought up with bad food habits and leading an unhealthy lifestyle. She was put in touch with Pilton Community Health Project.

Kirsty explains: “I was eating a typical student diet, but as a mum I wanted to be able to set a good example for my son. The changes in my lifestyle over the past two years have been huge. I’m happier, I feel less tired and have more energy, and Kelvin is happier too.

“With my new knowledge of food and the cooking skills I have learned, I find it really easy to make healthy meals with fresh ingredients now. Over the course of the week it’s affordable to eat and cook with fresh ingredients instead of pre-packed products, and it definitely feels better eating fresh food. Some of my dishes actually work out cheaper than buying ready meal equivalents. I definitely feel better by eating better.”

Eat Better Feel Better will be working alongside supermarkets and the convenience sector, as well as stakeholders and community groups from across Scotland’s food and health industry, to provide ongoing support for families. From practical cooking classes at community groups to special offers on healthy ingredients in-store, the campaign will aim to provide advice and practical help in places and at times which suit them.

A new website – – will provide recipes, tips from parents and healthier offers available from Scotland’s food retailers. The site will also host a series of cook-along videos to provide practical, easy to follow guides to cooking healthier family favourites such as spaghetti Bolognese, home-made burgers and chicken curry. A key strand of the campaign will be directing families across Scotland towards local events and support in their community, such as that provided by Pilton Community Health Project.

The campaign contributes to the Scottish Government’s food and drink policy and aspiration for Scotland to become a Good Food Nation, a nation where it is second nature to serve, sell and eat fresh, healthy food. It is also part of a co-ordinated Scottish Government programme of measures to support healthier choices in Scotland, including the Supporting Healthy Choices Voluntary Framework, launched in 2013, which sets out specific voluntary action for the food industry, including retailers, manufacturers, caterers and the public sector to support healthier diets in Scotland.


For further information on the campaign, visit

The new survey was carried out online by Opinion Matters amongst a sample of 500 Mums in Scotland with at least one child under the age of 16 living at home. Fieldwork was undertaken between 26th November and 1st December 2014.

Notes To Editors

About Pilton Community Health Project’s (PCHP) food team

PCHP’s Food team works with volunteers and local partners to help local people develop their understanding and knowledge to eat well on a budget, including cooking skills, budgeting, meal planning and wider food issues.

PCHP does this by running cooking sessions, lots of 'cook and taste' sessions in the community, delivering 'bite size' sessions on eating well and much more. People can get involved by joining one of the groups, becoming a volunteer or attending Food for Thought Forum meetings.

PCHP also gives the local community access to food related training courses to develop their skills. We are now able to support others to deliver quick and easy healthy eating sessions using our nutrition toolkit.

Through PCHP’s work, local people tell them that although they do want to eat better, the barriers they face can make it difficult. Often people who attend the cooking groups lack basic equipment like cookers and fridges. Budgets are tight; we find that while locals are good at making small amounts of money go a long way, this often means they cannot afford healthier food options, or the fuel to cook them.

At their recent ‘Good Food for All’ event local people told PCHP that low income is the most significant barrier to eating healthily. Austerity measures, increasingly insecure employment and low wages (below Living Wage) mean that increasing numbers are resorting to food banks. The Poverty Alliance told PCHP about the shame people feel when they need to use food banks. While local food projects are working hard to support people with their cooking and budgeting skills, these financial barriers also need to be tackled at a policy level.

Full report to follow late January and will be available on

About Pilton Community Health Project (PCHP)

Pilton Community Health Project has been working in the Pilton area since 1984 - that makes it the oldest community health project in Scotland.

PCHP uses a social model of health - looking at how health is affected by everyday life and is as much about the quality of your emotional and social situation as about your experience of disease or disability.

PCHP is rooted in the community and have always worked using a community development approach to tackle ill health in the area. It is a process that includes:

For information about PCHP, contact: Anita Aggarwal, Community Development Manager on 0131 551 1671 /