The Eatwell Guide was created by Public Health England and is based on government recommendations. It’s exactly what it says – a GUIDE. It outlines the proportions of each food group you should be including in your diet. When people talk about a ‘balanced’ diet or meal, this is the best thing to refer to. Here’s the 5 food groups:
Carbohydrates: Give us ENERGY. Ideally, these should be wholegrain as this gives us fiber. Currently, the UK population consumes less than half of the recommended 30g/day fiber. Excellent sources of starchy carbohydrates include potatoes, rice, pasta and bread – choosing wholegrain when possible.
Fruit and Vegetables: These provide us with essential vitamins and minerals, including more fiber. Managing to eat 5 portions of these a day can be a struggle for some. In fact, the UK as a whole struggles to reach 1-2 in some areas. Sneaking fruit and vegetables into everyday meals is a great way to increase consumption.
Protein: Contributes to muscle growth and repair. Despite the perception that we need high protein diets, only around 15-20% of our daily energy (calories) needs to be from a protein. Ideally, we should be sourcing our protein from more beans and pulses, 2 portions of sustainably sourced fish per week, one of which is oily, (salmon, mackerel, trout, fresh tuna) and consuming less red and processed meat.
Dairy and alternatives: These are an excellent source of protein, vitamins and, importantly, calcium; this is essential for bone health. Choose lower fat/less added sugar versions where possible.
Oils and spreads: These provide a direct source of fat in our diet. Fat has a number of functions, including helping the body absorb certain vitamins. Fat is very energy dense, so only needs to be consumed in small amounts. When choosing oils, try and aim for unsaturated versions such as vegetable, rapeseed, olive and sunflower oils.