The Eatwell guide

The Eatwell guide shows what kind of foods you should eat, and in what proportions, to have a healthy and balanced diet and more sustainable food. This includes everything you eat and drink during the day.

The Eatwell Guide 2016

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Fruit and vegetables

The Eatwell Guide - fruits and vegetablesEat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. This section should make up just over a third of the food you eat each day.

Fresh, frozen, dried and tinned (in juice or water) all count, as well as unsweetened fruit juices and smoothies (maximum 150ml, once a day). Try to have a variety.

For fresh, frozen or canned fruit and vegetables, a portion is 80g, but a portion of dried fruit is around 30g and only counts once a day. Limit fruit juice and smoothies to 150ml a day because of the sugars in them.

Try to avoid adding rich sauces or butter to your vegetables and sugar or syrups to fruit. Also, make sure tinned fruit and vegetables don’t have added salt and/or sugar.

Potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates

The Eatwell Guide 2016 - Starchy foodsStarchy foods should make up just over a third of the food we eat. Choose wholegrain or higher fibre versions of products like breads, rice or pasta and leave skins on potatoes.

‘Other starchy carbohydrates’ means foods such as breakfast cereals, porridge, yams and plantains.

Choose wholegrain versions where possible for more fibre, vitamins and minerals. Higher fibre versions of white bread and pasta can help you to increase your fibre intake, if you use these as a substitute for standard white versions of these foods.

Dairy and alternatives

The Eatwell Guide 2016 -  dairyChoose lower-fat and lower-sugar options where possible.

Milk, cheese, yogurt, fromage frais, quark and non-dairy alternatives are included in this group.

Try swapping whole or semi skimmed milk for 1 per cent fat milk. Low or reduced fat versions of dairy products are widely available, including cheese.

Alternatively, buy standard products in smaller amounts and eat them less often.

If you are using dairy alternatives (such as soya, oat or rice milks), it’s important to choose unsweetened and calcium- fortified versions.

Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins

The Eatwell Guide 2016 - proteinThese foods are sources of protein, vitamins and minerals, so it’s important to include foods from this group.

Beans and pulses are good alternatives to meat as they are low in fat and high in protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Aim to have 2 portions of sustainably sourced fish per week, one of which is oily. 

Eat less red and processed meat such as sausages, bacon and cured meats and if you eat more than 90g try to cut down to no more than 70g per day. Remove skin and visible fat from meat and poultry.

Oils and spreads

The Eatwell Guide - oils and spreadsSome fats in our diet are essential, but we need to think about the type of fat we add to our food, because generally we are eating too much saturated fat.

Unsaturated oils such as rapeseed, olive or sunflower oils are healthier choices than saturated fats like butter and lard. Swapping butter for lower fat unsaturated fat spreads is a way to reduce your saturated fat intake.

Because of the saturated fat content, butter is not included in this section but in the ‘foods to eat less often and in small amounts’ section as it’s not needed for a healthy diet.

All types of fat are high in energy, and so cutting down on these foods could help to control your weight.

Foods to eat less often and in small amounts

The Eatwell Guide 2016 - Fat, salt and sugarThis includes food and drinks high in fat and sugar such as cakes, biscuits, chocolate, sweets, puddings, pastries, ice cream, jam, honey, crisps, sauces, butter, cream and mayonnaise.

These foods are not needed in the diet so, should be consumed occasionally and in small amounts. 

Hydration

The Eatwell Guide - glass of waterWater, lower fat milk and sugar free drinks including tea and coffee all count.

Aim to have the equivalent of 6-8 glasses of fluid a day.

Limit fruit juice and/or smoothies to a total of 150ml a day.

Food labelling

Colour coded labels on the front of packs can help you to choose between foods and pick those that are lower in calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt.

The above guidance doesn't apply to children under the age of two, because they have different nutritional needs. From the ages of two to five, children should gradually move to eating the same foods as the rest of the family, in the proportions shown on the Eatwell guide.