What is a ‘Healthy Diet’?
Eating a balanced diet is an important part of being healthy. Knowing what a healthy, balanced diet should look like can be confusing though. The Eatwell Guide gives a clearer picture of what we need in order to eat well. Both children and adults should follow the guide.
What a healthy diet looks like
The Eatwell Guide help you eat a healthy, balanced diet. It shows an image of plate divided in to sections which display a variety of different foods. These different types of foods are shown as five main groups:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Potatoes, bread, rice pasta and other starchy carbohydrates
- Beans, pulses fish, eggs, meat and other proteins
- Dairy and alternatives
- Oils and spreads
The size of the sections suggests how much of each food group you need to eat. The bigger the section the more you need. Fruit and vegetables are one of the largest sections which mean you should eat lots from this group – at least five portions a day. Some foods should only be eaten in small amounts as the section of the plate is much smaller, such as oils and spreads.
There is one section which is set outside of the main plate, which is the section for foods high in fat, salt and sugar. You do not need these foods in your diet, and by not including them as a section of the main plate it shows you should not eat these very often or in large amounts. Read more about a balanced diet.
Who is the Eatwell Guide for?
The Guide is recommended for most people, regardless of their weight, ethnicity or preference as a meat eater or vegetarian. Children aged 2 to 5 years should start to follow the guide. Everyone aged 5 and older should eat a healthy, balanced diet shown by the Eatwell Guide. Some people may need to seek advice first, such as people with dietary requirements or medical needs.
When should you use the Eatwell Guide?
Try to follow the Eatwell Guide most of the time. Not every meal or snack you have will include a food from each of the five main sections but aim for a balance over the day and week. Imagine putting all the food you eat in a day or week in to the sections of the Eatwell Guide, would your sections be the same proportion as the guide? If not then consider what you would need to change in your diet, do you need to eat more of some foods and less of others?
Top Tips for a healthy diet
Here are just eight suggestions to help you and your child follow a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle;
- Include starchy carbohydrates at meals, these include; potatoes, bread, rice pasta and other sources.
- Aim to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
- Eat more fish. It is recommended to eat one portion of oily fish a week, such as; sardines, mackerel, trout, herring, pilchards and salmon.
- Cut down on foods high in fat and sugar.
- Eat less salt.
- Eat well and exercise to reach and stay a heathy weight.
- Drink 6-8 glasses of fluid a day. (Plain water and milk are the only tooth friendly drinks for children).
- Have breakfast.