Healthy eating

The Eatwell Guide shows how much of what we eat overall should come from each food group to achieve a healthy, balanced diet.

You do not need to achieve this balance with every meal but try to get the balance right over a day or even a week.

Proportions and Portions - Eat well plate


The diagram shows the proportions of food that you should eat, not the amount.

  • Half your plate to be filled with vegetables or salad
  • A quarter for meat, fish or vegetarian alternatives
  • A quarter for starchy foods like cereals, bread, potatoes and rice

 Please use the quick link to explore the interactive Eatwell Guide

Food Groups: Carbohydrates

(Starchy and Sugary Foods)

Carbohydrate is an important source of energy.  All carbohydrates that you eat and drink are broken down into glucose.  It is only food containing carbohydrate that will directly affect blood glucose levels.  There are two types of carbohydrate: Starchy and Sugary.

Starchy carbohydrates

Base your meals on starchy foods - starchy foods include bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, grains and cereals.  Although carbohydrate foods are healthy and should be eaten at each of your meals, consider the following points:-

  • Eating carbohydrate has the potential to increase your blood glucose levels.  The larger the portion of carbohydrate, the higher your blood glucose levels will be.  Equally if you eat smaller amounts of carbohydrate, the effect on your blood glucose levels will be smaller.
  • Choosing starchy foods that are low glycaemic index (GI) may have less of an effect on your blood glucose levels as they are broken down slowly.  They can also help to fill you up for longer.  Examples of low GI foods include - granary bread, oats wholewheat cereals.
  • Blood glucose levels are normally better controlled if you spread your intake of carbohydrates over the day rather than saving it until the main meal of the day.
  • If you are trying to lose weight, consider reducing the portion of starchy food at meal times.  You could also consider whether you could use less spread, butter or oil as these add extra calories to the carbohydrate.

Try to ........

  • Boil, bake or dry roast potatoes rather than cooking in oil or fat
  • Boil rice pasta without adding butter or oil whilst cooking or afterwards
  • Opt for tomato based sauces rather than creamy/cheese ones with pasta
  • Spread margarine or butter thinly on bread

Sugary carbohydrates

Sugary foods and drinks are often high in energy and affect blood glucose differently and can contribute to weight gain. They could also cause tooth decay, especially if eaten in-between meals. Cut down on sugary fizzy drinks, alcoholic drinks, cakes, biscuits and pastries which contain added sugars, this kind of sugar we should be cutting down rather than sugars that are found naturally in foods such as fruit and milk.

Fruit and Vegetables

Fruit and vegetables provide us with a good source of vitamins, minerals and fibre.  Eat lots of fruit and vegetables and aim for five portions a day. See link below  for hints and tips on how to achieve this.


Where one portion is..... 1 apple/1 banana/2 plums/2 kiwis/2satsumas/1 medium handful of strawberries or grapes/1slice of melon (2" thick etc.)

Ways to increase your fruit intake....

  • Eat a portion of fruit in-between meals as a snack or pudding.
  • Frozen or tinned fruit can be used as alternatives to fresh fruit - but try to choose tinned fruit in juice rather than syrup.
  • Use fresh or dried fruit on cereals.

Ways to increase your vegetable intake....

  • Substitute some of the meat with extra vegetables in curries, stew, chilli, casseroles and pasta.
  • Have some vegetables or salad with your main meal every day.
  • Add lettuce, tomatoes,  and cucumber to your sandwiches.
  • Try all types of vegetables, either fresh, frozen or tinned.

Meat, Fish Poultry and Pulses - Protein

These foods are all good sources of protein, vitamins and minerals, including iron.  They provide us with important nutrients for building healthy muscles, skin and other tissues of the body.  We know that protein is an essential part of our diet, however, most of us eat larger amounts than our body requires.  The aim would be to for two servings a day.  One serving is.....

  • 75g cooked meat or
  • 100g cooked fish (white or oily) or
  • 125g cooked beans, lentils or dhal or
  • 100g soya,quorn or torfu

Where possible try to....

  • Choose lean cuts of red meat, chicken and turkey
  • Choose lean mince when making burgers, meatballs or kebabs and grill meat where possible
  • Remove any visible fat from the meat
  • Remove the skin from chicken before cooking
  • Use low fat cooking methods e.g. grilling, boiling steaming, dry roasting, micro-waving or poaching
  • Try to limit your intake of processed meat products, such as sausages, sausage rolls, burgers, pork pies and corned beef

Eat more fish.  Fish is a good source of protein and contains vitamins and minerals. Aim for at least two portions a week - one of which should be oily .Oily fish includes mackerel,sardines,salmon, pilchards and trout.  Choose fish that is either fresh, frozen or tinned in brine, water or tomato sauce.

Cut down on saturated fat and sugar.  Saturated fat is found in many foods such as hard cheeses, cakes, biscuits, sausages, cream, butter, lard and pies.  Too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood which increases your risk of developing heart disease.

Dairy foods provide essential nutrients.  Unfortunately they are often high in fat

It is important to chose low fat dairy products wherever possible, this includes semi skimmed or skimmed milks, reduced fat cheese or cottage cheese and diet/healthy or light yoghurts.

Eat less salt.  Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure.  Even if you do not add salt to your foods you may still be eating too much.  Checking food labels can help you identify high salt foods. 

More that 1.5g salt per 100g of a product indicates it is high in salt.  'Recommended 6g/day maximum'.  It is important to note that 75% of the salt we consume comes from foods we eat, not from adding extra salt in cooking or at the table. For more information see

Keep well hydrated. We need to drink 1-2 litres of fluid daily. All non-alcoholic drinks count.

Try to avoid drinks that are high in added sugar.

Do not miss breakfast.  Research has shown that eating breakfast can help people to control their weight more successfully. 

A healthy breakfast is an important part of a balanced diet. 143

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