There are no single foods or one size fits all menus that you need to follow to eat healthily. All foods can be included in a healthy diet. You just need to make sure you get the right balance.
The best way to understand it is to think of foods in food groups. We need lots of food from some food groups and less foods from other groups. This eatwell plate shows how to balance the different food groups to make-up a healthy diet.
Despite what many people think, healthy eating really isn’t about excluding foods. It’s about eating a wide variety of foods, but eating them in the right proportions. A lot of people say healthy eating is about eating everything in moderation, but this isn’t strictly true. We need to eat more of some things and less of others.
Fruit and vegetables
It’s important to eat fruit and vegetables because there is evidence that people who eat more than five portions a day have a lower risk of developing heart disease. Fruit and vegetables contain fibre and a variety of vitamins and minerals which make them an important part of a healthy diet.
Bread, rice, potatoes and pasta
These are the foods you should base your meals around. As well as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta, this food group includes chapattis, naan, yam, plantain and cous cous. Choose wholegrain or higher-fibre versions of these starchy foods whenever you can.
Milk and dairy foods
These foods are important for protein and calcium, and also provide vitamins A and B12. If you don’t drink milk or eat dairy foods, it may be useful to use a milk substitute like soya milk, with added calcium. Try to go for the unsweetened versions too.
Meat, fish, eggs and beans
It’s important to include this food group in your diet as these provide vitamins and minerals including iron and protein. Include these foods two or three times a day.
Foods an drinks high in fat and/or sugar
The smallest section on the eatwell plate but it needs a big mention. This group includes things like cakes, crisps, sweets and chocolate. These tend to be the items we need to cut down on in order to eat more healthily. While they are nice to eat, they are not essential, everyday foods. Aim to have only small amounts of these foods.