To achieve a healthy, balanced diet, you need to eat the right amount and range of foods. If you want to get the balance of your diet right, use the eatwell plate. It makes healthy eating easier to understand by showing the types and proportions of foods we need to have a healthy and well balanced diet. The eatwell plate shows you how much of what you eat should come from each food group. This includes everything you eat during the day including snacks.
You should try to eat:
- Plenty of fruit and vegetables
Most people know we should be eating more fruit and vegetables. But most of us aren’t eating enough. We should eat at least five portions of fruit and veg each day. You can choose from fresh, frozen, tinned, dried or juiced. But remember, while potatoes don’t count towards your 5-a-day they play an important role in your diet because they are a starchy food.
- Plenty of bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods
Starchy foods such as bread, cereals, rice, pasta and potatoes are a really important part of a healthy diet. Try to choose wholegrain varieties whenever you can.
- Some milk and dairy foods
Milk and dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais are great sources of protein and vitamins A and B12. They are also an important source of calcium, which helps keep our bones strong. The calcium in dairy foods are easy for the body to absorb.
- Some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein
Meat is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, such as iron, selenium, zinc and B vitamins. It’s also one of the main sources of vitamin B12.
Fish and shellfish are good sources of a variety of vitamins and minerals and oily fish is particularly rich in omega 3 fatty acids. We should eat at least two portions of fish a week including one of oily fish. If we want to make sure there are enough fish to eat now and in the future we need to choose fish from sustainable sources.
Eggs, pulses, nuts and seeds are good sources of protein and are easy to prepare. Remember to take extra care if preparing eggs for anyone who is very young, pregnant or elderly.
- Small amount of foods and drinks high in fat and/or sugar
Having some fat in our diet helps the body absorb some vitamins. Fat is a good source of energy and provides essential fatty acids that the body can’t make itself. However, eating lots of fat can make you more likely to put on weight because foods that are high in fat are also high in energy (calories) and eating a diet that is high in saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood over time, which increases your chance of developing heart disease. It is, therefore, important to try to eat less fat and go for foods that are rich in unsaturated fats instead of saturated.
Most adults and children in the UK eat too much sugar. We should all try to eat fewer sugary foods such as sweets, cakes and biscuits and drink fewer soft drinks.