The eatwell plate

The eatwell plate

The eatwell plate highlights the different types of food that make up our diet, and shows the proportions we should eat them in to have a well balanced and healthy diet. 

View a larger version of the eatwell plate (PDF, 1.6Mb)

It's a good idea to try to get this balance right every day, but you don't need to do it at every meal. And you might find it easier to get the balance right over a longer period, say a week. Try to choose options that are lower in salt when you can.

Eating healthily is about eating the right amount of food for your energy needs. In England, most adults are either overweight or obese. This means many of us are eating more than we need, and should eat and drink fewer calories in order to lose weight. 

Based on the eatwell plate, try to eat:  

Plenty of fruit and vegetables

Did you know that we should be eating at least five portions of a variety of fruit and veg every day?

More on 5 A DAY

Plenty of potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy foods

Choose wholegrain varieties whenever you can, or eat potatoes with their skins on for more fibre.

More on starchy foods

Some milk and dairy foods

Go for lower-fat milk and dairy foods. These are healthier options to help you get enough protein and calcium.

More on milk and dairy foods

Some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein

These are important sources of protein, vitamins and minerals, and form part of a healthy balanced diet.

More on meat, fish, eggs, and pulses

Just a small amount of foods and drinks that are high in fat or sugar

Cut down on fat and sugar by eating fewer sweets, cakes and biscuits, and drinking fewer sugary soft drinks.

More on fat and sugar

Is the eatwell plate for me?

The eatwell plate applies to most people – whether they're a healthy weight or overweight, whether they eat meat or are vegetarian, and no matter what their ethnic origin.

However, it doesn't apply to children under the age of two because they have different nutritional 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. Find out more in Breastfeeding: the first few days and Your baby's first solid foods.

Anyone with special dietary requirements or medical needs might want to check with a registered dietitian whether the eatwell plate applies to them.

Further information on healthy eating

There is lots more information and advice on healthy eating in our Food and diet section.

To help you get started, read:

Got a question about the eatwell plate? Email the eatwell plate team at Public Health England: phe.enquiries@phe.gov.uk.

Page last reviewed: 31/05/2013

Next review due: 31/05/2015

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Comments

The 23 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

topsuplementy said on 02 January 2014

The advice is simply wrong: I read it as suggesting a balance by weight, rather than a variety including essentials.

O level biology in the early 80s taught me about essential foods - a little protein such as beans and some vitamins. I learned that the body can turn protein into fat & carbohydrate. Since then I've learned that roughage helps, preferably as leaves and other fresh little-cooked veg. (Then today I tried googling food types followed by "deficiency" and found that carbohydrate deficiency can exist in theory, if someone worked hard enough at avoiding carbohydrates.)

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Tre42 said on 16 June 2013

This information is old, outdated and needs changing urgently. When will the overwhelming evidence that it is processed foods especially sugar and starchy carbohydrates that is causing the obesity epidemic. Incorrect out dated advice is being peddled around the schools for the new generation of adults, doctors to continue to spout. If this 'eatwell' plate worked obesity wouldn't have increased at the Rate it has since this was produced. Please update this following the evidence that is now available before it is too late.

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Yabbayabba said on 09 April 2013

6g should be the minimum amount of salt not the maximum amount. Salt does not lead to weight again except when eating salty foods leads to drinking more alcohol or sugar laden or so called 'diet' soda drinks. The more salt you consume the more pure water you need to drink. If you drink eight glasses of water a day or excess a lot you need more salt. Replace refined table salt with sea salt or Himalayan rock salt.

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User363614 said on 18 March 2013

Eating lean protein is a recipe for disaster, It depletes your liver of vitamin A; nature provides fat as an accompaniment.

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alisonamber said on 29 January 2013

Food & Drinks high in sugar and/or fat should NOT feature on the eatwell plate at all, as part of healthy eating. This is outdated and not a resource I can use to show my clients.

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paleogirl said on 19 December 2012

There is evidence and studies available that show the safety and effectiveness of low carb diets.

http://www.kriskris.com/low-carb-vs-low-fat/

The evidence against the current eating advice is also very strong. Since the introduction of the recommendations in the early 1980's to cut saturated fat from our diets and eat lots of carbohydrates, rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes around the globe have skyerocketed. As a global experiment it has clearly failed.

The nutritionalist below states that there are no studies to show the safety of a long term low carb diet however as far as know, equally there are no studies that show a low carb diet to be dangerous.

Many Type 2 diabetics use this type of diet to control their blood sugar and avoid dangerous compications of their condition and have been doing so for many, many years with excellent health outcomes!

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pintster said on 05 December 2012

Typo - *saturated fats have not been proven to lower HDL and raise LDL levels

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pintster said on 05 December 2012

Pretty sure hunter gatherers were nearly wiped out by farmers. Carbohydrates are not bad. You are actually supposed to consume approximately 45-65% of your daily energy from carbohydrates, 20-35% from fats (no more than 10% from saturated) and 10-35% from proteins. And no, polyunsaturated fats are actually good for you - like the omega 3 fatty acids found in fish. Unsaturated fats have not been proven to lower LDL levels, in fact they are the types of fats that are solid at room temperatures and can lead to atherosclerosis.

Knowledge in biology has changed a lot since the 80's. The problem is not that we are consuming protein, it is that we are OVEREATING and that excess energy and protein is getting stored as fat when it is not burned. If you follow any food guide as well as get regular physical activity then you will be healthy. The problem is that everyone is looking for a magical cure and just want to eat and not exercise, then blame a food guide for misleading them.

Don't blame a health resource and carbohydrates for making you fat, take responsibility and do something about it. Granted there are some genetic disorders that pre-dispose someone to a condition that I am not trying to target here.

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user100 said on 05 November 2012

Charlie Powell from Sustain discusses a common sense approach to food labelling after the announcement from the DH last month.
http://www.govtoday.co.uk/health/44-public-health/13520-food-labeling-a-common-sense-approach

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Unklejon said on 09 October 2012

The advice and all the well-meant comments expressed show the problem that we mere mortals have with the subject of nutrition and diet. There is just too much conflicting "expert" opinion on the subject. Where can we get plain English advice on the subject? Who do we trust? Who has the food lobby not got their hooks into?

How lucky we are for all this healthy advice, my mum never had it and she only lived until she was 88 and could still bend and touch her toes, walk, run and live life to the full. Perhaps we should look backwards before obesity and diabetes plagues to what her generation ate – all those things we are banned from as unhealthy mainly. Goodness knows how humanity existed until commercially backed food science came to our rescue.

Perhaps medical science could focus on actually curing ailments instead of making millions simply treating the symptoms.

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Prostate Awareness said on 06 October 2012

This site needs a total overhaul. The advice is totally inadequate. Only this week an article indicated more than 22,000 with obesity will suffer from cancer. this year.
What does 22,000 cases of cancer cost the NHS (us)? What is the annual Government budget to truly diagnose and carry out clinical trials on everything we eat? How much time and effort is spent from our earliest school days into adulthood to educate us into healthy eating and avoidance of obesity? Nutrition should have a far greater spend by the NHS as opposed to trying to treat cancer once it has taken hold. Why is it that only man in this animal kingdom eats and drinks the milk of another animal? Think of going dairy free, forget processed supermarket foods with all their additives and get back to basics of vegetable stews, pulses and juicing vegetables. Fast food takeaways are an expensive way to damage your health! In most cases obesity is simply down to what you eat, so eat and drink badly and potentially die sooner. Do not 'diet' but just simply change your diet.


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MPBrown said on 10 July 2012

It frightens me how incorrect the government and NHS Nutritional advice is here. Grains (Particularly Wheat), Polyunsaturated fat and high fructose from sources other than fruit are the main culprits for the terrible rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and the countless other modern day diseases. Grains and Polyunsaturated fat have been shown to raise triglycerides, lower HDL, Raise (sd)LDL and (lb)LDL - BAD.

Saturated and Monounsaturated fat have been shown to Lower Triglycerides, lower HDL, Raise (sd)LDL and raise (lb)LDL (lbLDL is benign). Oxidation and inflammation are your enemies and the recommended plate above will lead you to it. Just because lots of people (Including the NSH and government) say a certain way of eating is right doesnt actually make it right.

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Elaine Gardner said on 26 June 2012

As an independent dietitian, I would like to clarify a number of issues that have been raised in relation to the Eatwell plate.

There are a variety of both wholegrain and white products identified in the yellow starch section and the text promotes and encourages the choice of wholegrain varieties to individuals.
The size of all the sections (including the yellow starch section) is based on scientific evidence developed for the independent Nutrition Task Force. This took into account data produced for the Committee on Nutritional Aspects of Cardiovascular Disease and Dietary Reference Values.
The evidence base for low carbohydrate diets (20-40g per day) shows that their long-term health effects (of over 1 year) are unknown in terms of heart, kidney and bone health. Likewise cancer risk is unknown, especially in those who are obese, so they are not recommended.

Starchy foods of all types are important contributors of protein, iron, calcium and vitamin B complex in particular in our diet.

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User688371 said on 21 June 2012

This is all very well and good but my problem is i have no idea at what a 'healthy portion' is. Is a portion of pasta 5g or 500g?!?!? I may get the ratio of the different foods right but if I'm eating 3 times the amout I should it's not going to make any difference. How can I tell how much a portion is?

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mortlake64 said on 07 June 2012

The advice is simply wrong: I read it as suggesting a balance by weight, rather than a variety including essentials.

O level biology in the early 80s taught me about essential foods - a little protein such as beans and some vitamins. I learned that the body can turn protein into fat & carbohydrate. Since then I've learned that roughage helps, preferably as leaves and other fresh little-cooked veg. (Then today I tried googling food types followed by "deficiency" and found that carbohydrate deficiency can exist in theory, if someone worked hard enough at avoiding carbohydrates.)

The plate above suggests a balanced diet by weight of food burned. Like four other commenters here, I think this is simply wrong and likely to lead to more diabetes and hart problems. It is also more-or-less impossible to hold all the food examples in my head, while the simpler advice of eating essentials with variety and no excess is memorable.

By the way, my partner was diagnosed with diabetes today after eating a fairly normal diet of supermarket meals and veg on the side. So a fairly normal diet is wrong.

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jocondo said on 22 March 2012

Fantastic the classification of Bean in the "Protein" section and equally clever to store the dry fruits in the section "Fruits and vegetables".

It really shows how much grey matter you put in the job. Know, i'm sure the population is safe.

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User363614 said on 17 March 2012

Where can I file a complaint, please?

The Eatwell Plate appears to recommend a third of what we eat should be cornflakes (processed, high glycaemic, high salt) Weetabix (processed, high glycaemic), white and wholemeal bread (processed, high glycaemic, high salt) bagel (processed, high glycaemic), white rice (high glycaemic), and potatoes (high glycaemic). 6% from battenburg cake, jam sponge, chocolate, sugary cola, sweets, biscuits, and chemically extracted oils?

I'm astonished that a prosecution has not been brought, in light of the diabetes epidemic that these foods contribute to.

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jimmrik said on 07 March 2012

In my experience it is sugars/carbohydrates that contribute to obesity and other ailments plaguing all of us here in America. I do not believe fat makes us fat, but that carbohydrates make us fat. This has been my experience and it saddens me that we continue to push poor food heath suggestions to Americans. It makes sense to me why we are the fattest society in known history with all of this bad information being spread to the population.

In my opinion, this plate and the old pyramid are not backed by good science and research, but by research skewed by corporate interests - just like so many other things in this country.

With this plate, America will continue to be fat. The corn/wheat/sugar industries will continue to thrive. The pharmaceuticals industry will grow even more powerful.

America doesn't need more carbs and pills. It needs to wake up break free from these bad (or lobbied) ideas.

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Emac said on 07 March 2012

Such a high proportion of starches was causing the highs, lows and food addiction I had before I cut back drastically. I don't see how anybody would need to drink something with a high sugar content as part of their basic diet if their health was unremarkable, and -on top of- the fruit juice that is included in the "fruits and vegetables" section? This misinformation is putting the country at risk of poor health.

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Durkee said on 07 March 2012

Humans evolved during millions of years as hunter-gatherers, without large amounts of carbohydrate. We ate the food that is available to us in nature by hunting, fishing and gathering all edible foods we could find. That did not include pure starch in the form of bread, pasta, rice or potatoes. We have only eaten such food for 5 – 10 000 years, since the beginning of agriculture. Just a limited adaptation of our genes can take place in such a relatively short time.

With the industrial revolution, 100 – 200 years ago, we got factories that could manufacture large amounts of pure sugar and white flour. Rapidly digested pure carbohydrates. There has been no time to genetically adapt to that food.

In the 80s the fear of fat gripped the western world. The low fat products appeared everywhere. If you eat less fat you need to eat more carbohydrates to feel full. At this time the worst epidemic of obesity and diabetes in history started. The most fatphobic country in the world, the USA, has been hit the hardest and is now the fattest major country in the world.

Today it is clear that the fear of real food with natural fat contents has been a mistake.

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Tne Smudger said on 20 February 2012

I have tried to get this plate from various sources as a means to help me understand portion control.My dietician has one,my Dr has one,my diabetic nurse has one...It seems the whole world has one...but alas the guy who really needs one.......is still looking. O yes I have asked the people looking after my health...no joy.. they are a teaching tool.Why will the NHS... not hand these things out to those that need them..rather than use them as a 5 minute teaching tool that people forget within seconds.
.

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Ryan Curtis said on 17 January 2012

This looks like the DietPlate .. i saw an article about it on the diabetes website .. http://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetic-products/diet-plate.html

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rexemanuel said on 12 December 2011

Wow, this is great information regarding healthy eating, I like the Healthy Eating Plate better than either the pyramid

Thanks for the information.
Rex Emanuel

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