What does the Eatwell Guide show?
The Eatwell Guide divides the foods we eat into 5 main food groups, contained within the circular image. It shows the different types of foods we should eat to have a healthy balanced diet, and what proportions we should eat them in. You don’t need to achieve this balance at every meal but you should try to get this balance over a day or a week. Aim for a variety of different foods from each of the 5 groups to help you get the wide range of nutrients your body needs. Information about calories, hydration, foods high in fat, sugar and salt and food labels is also included (click below for an image of the Eatwell Guide).
- Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day
Fruit and vegetables should make up more than a third of the food we eat every day. You can choose from fresh, frozen, tinned, dried or juiced. But remember that fruit juice and smoothies should be limited to a combined total of 150ml per day. Beans and pulses can also count as one portion of your fruit and vegetables per day. Different colours of fruit and vegetables provide different nutrients so make sure you eat a rainbow of colours each day! They are also a great source of fibre.
- Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates
Starchy foods should make up just over a third of the food we eat every day. They’re a good source of energy and provide lots of different nutrients. Choose wholemeal or whole grain versions and leave the skins on potatoes to increase fibre intake. You can try higher fibre varieties of white bread and pasta if you find it hard to swtich straight to whole grain versions.
- Have some dairy or dairy alternatives. Choose lower fat and lower sugar options.
Foods include milk, cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais. These foods provide calcium for bones and teeth and are a good source of protein. However, they’re high in saturated fat so choose lower fat versions where possible. Also watch out for added sugars and choose lower sugar or plain versions. This group doesn’t include butter, eggs and cream.
- Eat some beans, pulses, eggs, meat and other protein. Aim for 2 portions of fish each week, 1 of which should be oily.
These foods are good sources of protein, vitamins and minerals. Pulses include beans, peas and lentils and are a good substitute for meat as they’re lower in fat and higher in fibre and protein. Choose lean cuts of meat and mince and cut down on red and processed meat, such as bacon, ham, sausages and burgers.
Oily fish are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids which can protect against heart disease. They include mackerel, salmon, fresh tuna (not tinned), sardines, pilchards, herring, anchovies and trout.
- Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat in small amounts
Unsaturated fats include vegetable, rapeseed, olive and sunflower oils and spreads. They’re healthier than saturated fats, but remember that all types of fats are high in energy and should be eaten in small amounts.
- Eat foods high in fat, sugar and salt less often and in small amounts
Foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt have been positioned outside the main circular image as they’re not needed as part of a healthy balanced diet and most of us need to cut down on these types of foods.
These foods include sweets, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, ice cream, sugary drinks, butter, ghee and condiments e.g. tomato sauce and salad dressings.
- Drink plenty of fluids – around 6-8 glasses a day
Water, lower fat milk and lower sugar or sugar free drinks (including tea and coffee) all count towards your fluid intake. Fruit juice and smoothies also count but contain sugars that damage teeth. Keep these drinks to a combined total of 150ml per day.
- Food labels
You can use food labels to help you choose foods that are lower in calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt. For more details try our article on reading food labels.
- Energy intake
On average, women should consume 2,000 calories (8,400 kilojoules) a day and men should consume 2,500 calories (10,500 kilojoules) a day. Most adults are consuming more calories than they need so watch your portion sizes and switch to healthier snacks where possible!
Who is the Eatwell Guide for?
The Eatwell Guide applies to most people including vegetarians, people who are overweight, people of a healthy weight for their height and people of all ethnic origins. However, it does not apply to children under 2 years of age because they need full fat milk and dairy foods and less high fibre foods. Children aged 2-5 years can start to move towards the proportions in the Eatwell Guide.