Healthy Eating - Getting the Balance Right
No single food contains all the nutrients needed for good health, so a healthy diet should include a wide variety of foods, from each of the food groups. Balance is the key.
The eatwell plate is the healthy eating model used in the
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To have a well balanced and healthy diet, select foods you enjoy from each group in the proportions shown. It is not necessary to achieve this balance at every meal, or even every day. You should aim to achieve these proportions over a few days.
Fruit and vegetables: Fruit and Vegetables are low in fat and calories. A third of our total food intake should come from this group, try to choose a wide variety and aim to eat at least 5 portions every day. The group includes all fresh, frozen, canned and dried fruit, fruit juice and vegetables.
Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods: Starchy foods like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes should be the main part of most meals and snacks. They should be the main source of energy in our diets. Contrary to popular belief, this group of foods is not high in calories. A third of our total food intake should come from this group.
Meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein: These are good sources of protein, vitamins and minerals, particularly iron. Pulses such as peas, beans, lentils and nuts also contain dietary fibre. The iron found in meat is absorbed well by the body, and meat has the extra advantage of helping with the absorption of iron from vegetables and cereals.
Milk and dairy foods: These are good sources of protein, vitamins and minerals, and provide most of our calcium. This group is particularly important for growing children.
Foods and drinks high in fat and/or sugar: These foods provide energy but may contribute only small amounts of other nutrients. They therefore are not essential to a healthy diet, but add extra choice and taste. Most of us consume far more from this group than we actually need. So try to eat sparingly.
Is your meal healthy? Composition is key.
Much of what we eat is composite food, in the form of dishes or meals that have more than one kind of food item in them. For example pizza, curry, pies, lasagne and sandwiches are all foods made from more than one food group. Many manufactured foods are composite foods as well. To make healthy choices, identify the main food item or ingredient and think about which food group it fits into.
For example, a Bacon Sandwich can contain items from 3 of the main food groups:
- Wholemeal bread – from the bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods group
- Lean bacon, grilled – from the meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein group
- Plenty of tomato and lettuce or other salad vegetables to fill the sandwich – from the fruit and vegetables group. Why not try a piece of fruit to follow?
- To add the fourth main food group you could have a glass of milk or low fat yoghurt to complete the meal.
So overall what is a healthy lifestyle all about?
|What it's not about||
What it is about
|Cutting out tasty food
Eating more of some items
Look and feel better
|Eliminating favourite food||
Eating a little less of others
Feel fitter and have more energy
|Having less food
Knowing more about food
Better weight control
Making small gradual changes
Improved body shape
|Making major changes||Altering food shopping patterns||Reduced stress and improved mood|
|Becoming super fit
||Modifying cooking and preparation methods
|Not enjoying food
||Enjoying your food
|Enjoying being active|