The NHS’ Eatwell Guide has been designed to make it easier to consume a balanced diet by dividing your food and drink into 5 main food groups; it shows how much of your total food consumption should be coming from each food group.
Fruits & Vegetables
We should be aiming to consume at least five portions of fruit and veg per day. Try to make sure that at least three of these portions are vegetables. An important thing to remember is that you should be eating 5 different varieties, rather than just 5 apples for example. Fruit and vegetables are a great source of vitamins, minerals and fibre and can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.
What is a portion?
Fresh/dried/juiced/tinned and frozen all count but fruit juice and smoothies should be max 150ml per day combined and be aware of added sugar/syrup/salt in tinned and dried varieties.
Small fruit: 1 portion = 2 or more small fruit e.g., 2 plums, 2 kiwis, 3 apricots, 7 strawberries or 14 cherries
Medium fruit: 1 portion = 1 medium fruit e.g., banana, apple or orange
Large fruit: 1 portion= 1/2 grapefruit, 1 slice of papaya, 1 slice of melon (5cm slice), 1 large slice of pineapple or 2 slices of mango (5cm slices)
Dried fruit: A portion of dried fruit is around 30g. This is about 1 heaped tablespoon of raisins, currants or sultanas, 1 tablespoon of mixed fruit, 2 figs, 3 prunes or 1 handful of dried banana chips.
Eating on a budget? Try frozen or tinned
Carbohydrates are our body’s main source of energy; they help fuel our brain, kidneys, heart muscles, and central nervous system. They are also a good source of many vitamins and minerals.
There are three different types of carbs: starch, fibre and sugar:
Starch is complex carbohydrate that provides a slow release of energy throughout the day because it takes a long time for the body to break down complex carbohydrates. They provide you with lots of vitamins and minerals.
Fibre is a complex carbohydrate that comes from plant-based foods. Our bodies can’t break down fibre but it is great for our digestive systems. Most of us need to eat more fibre and have fewer added sugars in our diet. Eating plenty of fibre is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer.
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate. There are two types of sugar: naturally occurring sugars and added sugars.
45% of our calories should come from carbohydrates. “However, not all carbohydrates are created equal,” says Donna Logan, RD, a registered dietitian at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. Healthy sources of carbohydrates include:
- Whole grains: quinoa, oatmeal, whole-grain pasta, bread and rice
- Fruits: berries, apples and bananas
- Starchy vegetables: potatoes (with skin where possible), peas and carrots
Dairy & Alternatives
We should be aiming for 2-3 portions of dairy per day as part of a balanced diet.
The benefits of milk/dairy:
- Keeps muscles, bones, nerves, teeth, skin and vision healthy
- Helps to maintain healthy blood pressure
- Supports normal growth and brain development
- Supports normal immune functioning
- Great source of calcium
Sources of dairy:
Milk, cheese, yogurt, kefir, soya and dairy calcium-fortified alternatives
If you choose a plant-based alternative, choose one fortified with calcium and vitamin B12.
Protein is essential for the growth and repair of our cells and for overall good health. Try to aim for 2 portions of fish per week and one of those should be an oily fish such as salmon or sardines.
Daily protein intake:
Oil and spreads
Oils and spreads should only be consumed in small amounts and if you are going to use them it is healthiest to opt for unsaturated oils such as vegetable oil, rapeseed oil or olive oil.
If you would like to find out more about healthy eating, you can join our free Lose Weight programme, where our qualified health coaches can provide you with tips and advice on how to Eatwell and lose weight.
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