Getting the balance

Eating healthily can help us feel good and make a real difference to our future health.

To make sure you’ve got the most up-to-date information about healthy eating a new Eatwell Guide has been produced by Public Health England.

The guide replaces the old Eatwell Plate and shows the recommended percentages of each food group that you should be aiming to eat.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be at each meal but spread out over a day or even a week. The new percentages are:

  • bread, rice and other starchy foods - 38%
  • fruit and vegetables - 40%
  • milk and dairy - 8%
  • beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins - 12%
  • oils and spread - 1%

Foods high in fat and sugar such as biscuits, cakes and confectionery no longer appear on the guide as part of a balanced diet, as these should only be eaten in small amounts.

The guide also reminds us we should be eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. Ideally try to include a rainbow of colours to get the greatest benefits.

However, don’t peel fruit and veg unless you really have to as fibre is found in the skins and limit fruit juice and smoothies to no more than 150ml per day.

We might think that carbs are fattening but actually, gram for gram, they contain less than half the calories of fat.

Around a third of our diets should be made up of starchy carbohydrates. Base meals around potatoes, rice, pasta or bread but try to choose wholemeal varieties whenever possible.

Don’t add too much oil or fat when preparing starchy food, for example, boil or bake potatoes rather than roasting.

A simple overview of the latest guidance is attached to this page.

Other healthy tips include:

  • eat protein such as beans, pulses, lean meat and fish every week
  • adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day - that's about a teaspoonful
  • aim for two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily such as mackerel, salmon or fresh tuna
  • dairy foods such as milk and yoghurt should be low fat and low sugar where possible
  • although some fat is essential choose unsaturated oils and fats and only eat in small amounts
  • try to eat less than 70g of red or processed meat per day. Choose lean cuts of meat and poultry and grill instead of fry it
  • drink 6 to 8 glasses of water, milk or sugar free drinks a day to stay well hydrated
  • adults should eat no more than 30g of added or free sugar per day - that’s about seven cubes

The Eatwell guide is recommended for everyone over the age of five. However, anyone with medical needs or special dietary requirements should seek advice from a doctor or a registered dietitian before using it.

Remember that no matter how healthy your diet is, if you’re eating too much you can still gain weight.

On average, a man needs about 2,500 calories per day and a woman around 2,000 from all food and all drink, so it can be easy to eat more than this.

Derbyshire County Council has lots of information on sugar, portion sizes, fibre and balanced diets as well as tips for healthier shopping and eating out.

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