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Healthy Eating Plan Basics

Eating healthily isn't complicated once you know the basics. The Balance of Good Health will help you plan for a healthy diet.

Many people are unsure of what healthy eating means - not surprising when you consider the variety of, often conflicting, advice given. The following guidelines are based on the UK Government’s ‘Balance of Good Health’ and apply to most people over the age of 5. People under medical supervision or with special dietary requirements may have different needs and should check with their doctor. If you are trying to eat more healthily in order to lose weight, you'll also need to pay attention to calories.

The Balance of Good Health

Fruit & Vegetables

Eating healthily means at least 5 a day

This includes frozen, canned, dried and pure juices as well as fresh. Also included in this group are beans, including baked beans, pulses and lentils. The key for good health is to choose a wide variety - aiming for five different portions per day. A portion is approximately 80g, e.g. one medium apple or two medium plums.

Bread, Other Cereals & Potatoes

A healthy eating plan should include 5 portions daily

This group includes breakfast cereals, pasta, rice, noodles, oats and other cereals as well as bread and potatoes. You should aim to include at least one food from this group at each meal.

Milk & Dairy Foods

2-3 servings daily is the recommended healthy eating level

Milk, cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais are included in this group, but not butter, eggs and cream. Serving sizes in this group vary, depending on how concentrated the food is, e.g. 1 serving of milk is 200ml, a serving of yoghurt is 150g and a serving of cheese is 30g.

Meat Fish & Alternatives

2-3 servings daily, choose low fat if your healthy eating plan is for weight loss

This group includes eggs, poultry, and meat and fish products such as beefburgers and fishcakes. Some of these products can be high in fat - so it’s best to choose lower fat versions of products, and trim visible fat from meat and poultry. Alternatives are non-meat sources of protein such as nuts, tofu, mycoprotein, textured vegetable protein (TVP) and kidney beans.

Foods Containing Fat & Foods Containing Sugar

Eat in small quantities, 0-3 servings daily

These are foods high in fat and/or sugar. Butter, margarine, oil, mayonnaise, cream, crisps and fried foods are high in fat. Soft drinks, sweets and jam are high in sugar. Cakes, chocolate, biscuits, pastries and ice-cream are high in both. It is essential to include a small amount of fat in your diet, but most people need to eat less. The emphasis should be on unsaturated fat e.g. olive, sunflower and corn oil, rather than saturated fat which tends to come from animal products, cakes, biscuits and pastries.

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You can keep track of how your healthy eating plan is going, with the Weight Loss Resources online food diary. Try it free for 24 hours.

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