What is a healthy, balanced diet?

The key to a healthy, balanced diet is:

  • eating the right amount of food to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
  • eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions – this is what balanced means

The range of foods in your diet should include:

  • plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • plenty of bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods – choosing wholegrain varieties where possible
  • some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein
  • some milk and dairy foods – choosing lower-fat varieties where possible
  • just a small amount of foods high in fat and sugar

For more information, see the eatwell plate, which shows:

  • the different types of food you need to eat
  • how much of what you eat should come from each food group

Healthy eating tips

Eating well plays an important part in maintaining good health. Below are eight practical tips that cover the basics of healthy eating and can help you make healthier choices:

  • base your meals on starchy foods, as these give you energy – choose wholegrain varieties (or eat potatoes with their skins on) when you can as they contain more fibre
  • eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day – see 5 A DAY: what counts? for more information
  • eat more fish – have at least two portions of fish every week, including one portion of oily fish such as mackerel or sardines; if you're vegetarian and don't eat fish, see the Vegetarian meal guide for more information on a healthy vegetarian diet
  • cut down on saturated fat and sugar – see Healthy food swaps for healthier choices
  • eat less salt – no more than 6g a day for adults; for tips on how to do this, see Tips for a lower-salt diet
  • get active and be a healthy weight – use the healthy weight calculator to check if your weight is healthy
  • drink plenty of water or other fluids every day – to find out why this is important, see Water and drinks
  • don't skip breakfast as it gives you the energy you need for the day – see Five healthy breakfasts for ideas

For more information about these practical tips, see Eight tips for healthy eating.

Read the answers to more questions about healthy eating.

Further information

Eating well on a budget

In this video, dietitian Azmina Govindji gives advice on how to eat healthily on a budget.

Media last reviewed: 27/04/2015

Next review due: 27/04/2017

Page last reviewed: 24/09/2015

Next review due: 24/09/2017