The Eatwell Plate
The eatwell plate is a policy tool that defines the Governments recommendations on healthy diets. It makes healthy eating easier to understand by giving a visual representation of the types and proportions of foods needed for a healthy and well balanced diet.
Eating a healthy and well balanced diet in line with the eatwell plate can help improve your overall health and well being. It can also help protect against heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, bowel disease and certain cancers.
You don’t need to get this balance of foods right at every meal, however it is a good idea to try to get this overall balance right over the period of a day or even a week.
Who is the eatwell plate for?
The eatwell plate is appropriate advice for most people including people of all ethnic origins and people who are of a healthy weight or overweight. It is also suitable for vegetarians.
However, it does not apply to children under two years of age because they have different needs. Between the ages of two and five, children should gradually move to eating the same foods as the rest of the family, in the proportions shown on the eatwell plate. Please see the links below for advice for under-twos.
Main Food Groups
The eatwell plate is based around five main food groups and it illustrates how much of what you eat should come from each food group. This includes everything you consume during the day, including snacks.
So, try to eat:
- plenty of bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, chapattis, noodles, cereals and other starchy foods. Choose wholegrain varieties whenever you can.
- plenty of fruit and vegetables
- some milk and dairy foods
- some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non dairy sources of protein
- just a small amount of foods and drinks high in fat and / or sugar
8 Tips for a Healthy Diet
The eatwell plate supports the Government’s 8 guidelines for a healthy diet, which are:
1. Base your meals on starchy food
Starchy foods include potatoes, breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, chapattis, cassava, cous cous etc… Choose wholegrain varieties when you can as these contain more fibre and will help keep you feeling fuller for longer. Starchy foods are great energy foods and they are rich in starch, fibre, vitamins and minerals mainly calcium, iron and B vitamins. Starchy foods should make up around a third of the foods you eat – so try to include at least one starchy food with each main meal. Some people think these foods are fattening, but gram for gram they contain fewer than half the calories of fat. It is what you add or how you cook these foods that adds the calories to them.
Top tips to try:
- Try wholemeal, seeded or granary breads. Choose wholemeal chapatti or pitta breads.
- Choose wholegrain pasta and rice, they are higher in fibre and can help keep you feeling fuller for longer.
- Choose porridge, bran flakes or muesli for breakfast and scatter a handful of dried fruit over the top.
- For lunch try a baked potato with baked beans or a granary bagel filled with roasted vegetables and hummus.
- Avoid adding extra oil, butter, margarine or ghee to starchy foods such as chapatti, bread, rice or potatoes.
Visit NHS for more information on Starchy Foods.
2. Eat lots of fruit and vegetables
Eating the recommended 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day can help your body fight off diseases such as heart disease, strokes and some cancers. Fruit and vegetables are generally low in fat and calories and they are great sources of vitamins and minerals including folate, vitamin C and potassium. A glass (150mls) of 100% unsweetened fruit or vegetable juice can be counted as one portion however much you drink in the day.
Top tips to try:
- Add tinned, dried or fresh fruit to your breakfast cereal – slice a banana over your bran flakes or scatter a handful of raisins over your porridge.
- Add extra vegetables eg. cauliflower, peas or spinach to meat curries.
- Include a side salad with your meals.
- Add extra vegetables and fruit to raita (condiment made with yoghurt, served as a sauce or dip)
Visit NHS – 5 A Day for more information on Fruit and Vegetables.
3. Eat more fish – include a portion of oily fish each week
Fish is a good source of protein and is rich in essentials vitamins and minerals mainly niacin, selenium and iodine. Aim for at least two portions of fish a week (one portion = 140g), including at least one portion of oily fish. Oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, salmon, trout and fresh tuna contain high levels of omega 3 fats which are thought to have heart health benefits. They may help prevent heart disease. Don’t forget you can include fresh, frozen or canned fish but remember canned or smoked fish can be high in salt. Anyone who regularly eats a lot of fish should try to choose as wide a variety as possible.
Top tips to try:
- Use oily fish in dishes such as masala fish, fish curries or fish biryani.
- Try tinned sardines, pilchards or mackerel in a tomato sauce on toast for lunch or with a baked potato and a side salad.
- Flake salmon through rice and add some extra vegetables.
Visit NHS – Fish and Shellfish for more information on fish and the types of fish to limit or avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Visit Fish is the Dish for some inspiring fish recipes.
4. Cut down on saturated fat and sugar
5. Try to eat less salt – no more than 6g a day
Most people are eating too much salt. As adults our average salt intake is about 8.6grams a day (that is about 2 teaspoons) We should be trying to have much less than this. The recommended salt intake for adults and children over 11 years is 6 grams a day (about a teaspoon). Babies and children should have much less than this amount. Eating too much salt can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure. People with high blood pressure are more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke. Use food labels more to help you cut down. If a food contains more than 1.5g of salt per 100g this means the food is high in salt. Download Your Guide To Food Labels (PDF) or order
from Health Improvement Resource Service – Resource Code: NUT 72/L.
Visit NHS – Salt for more information and details of daily recommended maximum amounts of salt for adults, children and babies.
6. Get active and try to be a healthy weight
7. Drink plenty water
Visit NHS – Water and Drinks
8. Don’t skip breakfast
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for keeping our bones healthy. We get this vitamin, often referred to as the sunshine vitamin, mainly from sunlight and also small amounts from some foods mainly oily fish, eggs and meat. Some foods have been fortified with Vitamin D – margarines with a fat content above certain levels, some breakfast cereals, soya and dairy products.
It is, however, difficult to get the required amount of Vitamin D from foods alone.
There are several groups of people who are at a greater risk of vitamin D deficiency:
- All people aged 65 and over
- All pregnant and breast feeding women
- Children under 5 years of age
- People who aren’t exposed to much sunlight for example those who cover their skin for cultural reasons, are housebound or those who stay indoors for long periods
- people who have darker skin and therefore need to spend a longer time in the sun to produce vitamin D
If you are in one of these at-risk groups, you should take a daily 10 microgram Vitamin D supplement all year round.
Are you getting enough vitamin D?
- Vitamin D Advice – Scottish Government
- Vitamin D and You – Leaflet – Public Health Scotland – Available in a range of different languages.
- Vitamin D – Are you getting enough? NHS Forth Valley Infographic Poster
- Vitamin D – Are you getting enough? NHS Forth Valley Postcard
- Vitamin D – British Dietetic Association Factsheet
- Vitamin D – NHS
African Carribean Nutrition Resources
- Reducing your risk of stroke: information for black African and black Carribean people information produced by the Stroke Association.
- Enjoy Food – African Carribean Guide booklet produced by Diabetes UK.
- Healthy Heart Recipe Finder – The British Heart Foundation has a free app for iphone and android smartphone users – it has great meal options for people with high cholesterol, high blood pressure and/or diabetes. It has over 100 recipes from all over the world and a handy shopping list feature to use whilst in the supermarket.
South Asian Nutrition Resources
- South Asian Eatwell Plate (PDF) Flier produced by NHS Forth Valley Dietitians. Also available from Health Improvement Resource Service (HIRS) Resource Code NUT 73/L
- Diabetes UK – Healthy Eating for the South Asian Community – Leaflet produced by Diabetes UK, 2011. Diabetes UK – Asian Recipe
- Healthy Living Healthy Heart for South Asian Communities produced by the British Heart Foundation.
- Love Your Heart – A South Asian Guide to Controlling your Blood Pressure – Booklet produced by Blood Pressure Association.
- Reducing your risk of stroke in South Asian people information by the Stroke Association.
- NHS Choices – This site has a South Asian Health page which has links to several healthy eating pages – find out about fats, 10 tips for a health South Asian diet.
South Asian Recipes and Websites
The British Heart Foundation produce a number of resources – booklets and DVDs, aimed at South Asians living in the UK. The resources are available in a variety of different languages: English, Bengali, Gujarati , Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu.
- Visit British Heart Foundation – Publications to order resources.
- Healthy Meals Healthy Heart – (PDF) – This recipe book produced by the British Heart Foundation contains over 60 easy to prepare Asian recipes. It also contains some basic healthy eating advice. Available only in English.
- The British Heart Foundation also have a range of recipe fliers available in different languages. Baked Vegetable Samosa or Low Fat Carrot Halwa.