The food choices we make can make a big difference to our health.
A healthy balanced diet is varied, includes foods from all the main food groups and contains at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. The Eat Well plate highlights the different types of food that make up our diet, and shows the proportions we should eat them in to have a well-balanced and healthy diet.
Eat regular meals
Avoid skipping meals and space your breakfast, lunch and evening meal out over the day.
Good choices include pasta, basmati or easy cook rice (choose high fibre and wholegrain options wherever possible), grainy breads such as granary, pumpernickel and rye, new potatoes with their skins on, sweet potato, yam, porridge oats, and no added sugar muesli.
Switch saturated fat for unsaturated fat
Instead of saturated fats like butter, lard and ghee use vegetable oils and spreads made from vegetable oils like olive, sunflower, and rapeseed, which are unsaturated. These fats are also found in nuts, avocados and oily fish. Remove the visible fat and skin from red and white meats. Use low fat milk and dairy and replace fatty snacks with healthier choices. To keep the calories down, grill, steam or bake food rather than frying, and swap creamy sauces for tomato based sauces.
Eat more fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables will help give your body the vitamins, minerals and fibre it needs. We should all aim to eat at least 5 portions a day.
Eat more beans
Kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils are packed with nutrients. Try them hot in soups or casseroles, cold in salads or in reduced fat hummus and dhal.
Dish up the fish
Aim to eat two portions of fish, including one of oily fish, a week. Examples of oily fish include mackerel, sardines, salmon and pilchards.
Cut down on sugar
Choose sugar-free, diet or no-added sugar drinks, unsweetened breakfast cereals and try naturally sweet fruit, a small handful of nuts or low fat natural yoghurt as snacks rather than biscuits or cakes. Make sure you’re reading food labels to spot sugar in foods you buy, and to help you make healthier choices.
Cut down on salt
Adults should have no more than 1 tsp (6g) of salt a day, while children will have lower targets. About 75% of the salt we eat comes from ready-prepared or processed foods – so try to cut back on these foods, read food labels to choose reduced salt options and try flavouring your food with herbs and spices instead of salt.
Drink in moderation
That’s a maximum of 2–3 units of alcohol per day for a woman and 3–4 units per day for a man. Remember alcohol is high in calories so think about cutting back further if you are trying to lose weight.
Be aware of portion sizes
It’s not just what’s on your plate, but how much. Try using smaller plates, or dish out your vegetables first and let them fill up your plate.