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The Eatwell Guide

The Eatwell Guide shows how much of what we eat overall should come from each food group to achieve a healthy, balanced diet.

You do not need to achieve this balance with every meal, but try to get the balance right over a day or even a week.

A segment of an oval representing just over a third of our diet with examples of fruit and vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, peas, tinned tomatoes, apples, bananas and grapes
Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day

Most of us still are not eating enough fruit and vegetables. They should make up just over a third of the food we eat each day.

Aim to eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and veg each day. Choose from fresh, frozen, tinned, dried or juiced.

Remember that fruit juice and smoothies should be limited to no more than a combined total of 150ml a day.

Fruit and vegetables are a good source of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

Find out more about how to get your 5 A Day

A segment of an oval representing just over a third of our diet with examples of starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes, bread, wholegrain cereal, pasta and rice
Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates

Starchy food should make up just over a third of the food we eat. Choose higher fibre or wholegrain varieties, such as wholewheat pasta and brown rice, or simply leave the skins on potatoes.

There are also higher fibre versions of white bread and pasta.

Starchy foods are a good source of energy and the main source of a range of nutrients in our diet.

Find out more about starchy foods

A segment of an oval, smaller than the fruit and vegetables and starchy carbohydrates segments, with examples of good sources of protein, including lentils, beans, chickpeas, nuts, fish, meat and eggs
Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein foods

These foods are good sources of protein, vitamins and minerals. Pulses, such as beans, peas and lentils, are good alternatives to meat because they're low in fat and they're a good source of fibre and protein, too.

Choose lean cuts of meat and mince, and eat less red and processed meat like bacon, ham and sausages.

Aim for at least 2 portions (2 x 140g) of fish every week, 1 of which should be oily, such as salmon, sardines or mackerel.

Find out about fish and meat.

A segment of an oval, smaller than the protein foods segment, with examples of dairy and alternatives, such as cheese, semi-skimmed milk, soya drink and yoghurt
Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks and yoghurts)

Milk, cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais are good sources of protein and some vitamins, and they're also an important source of calcium, which helps keep our bones healthy.

Try to go for lower-fat and lower-sugar products where possible, like semi-skimmed, skimmed or 1% fat milk, reduced-fat cheese or plain low-fat yoghurt.

Find out more about milk and dairy foods

Examples of oils and spreads: vegetable oil and lower fat spread
Choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat in small amounts

Unsaturated fats are healthier fats and include vegetable, rapeseed, olive and sunflower oils.

Remember all types of fat are high in energy and should be eaten in small amounts.

Find out more about the different types of fat in our diet

Examples of foods high in fat, salt and sugar, including ketchup, biscuits, crisps, cake, ice-cream and chocolate. These sit outside the main oval
Eat foods high in fat, salt and sugar less often and in small amounts

These foods include chocolate, cakes, biscuits, sugary soft drinks, butter, ghee and ice cream.

They're not needed in our diet, so should be eaten less often and in smaller amounts.

Get tips on cutting down on sugar

A glass containing the words 6 to 8 a day
Drink plenty of fluids – the government recommends 6 to 8 cups or glasses a day

Water, lower-fat milks, lower-sugar or sugar-free drinks and tea and coffee all count.

Fruit juice and smoothies also count towards your fluid consumption, but they contain free sugars that can damage teeth, so limit these drinks to a combined total of 150ml a day.

Find out more about water, drinks and your health

How does the Eatwell Guide work?

The Eatwell Guide divides the foods and drinks we consume into 5 main food groups.

Try to choose a variety of different foods from each of the groups to help you get the wide range of nutrients your body needs to stay healthy.

It's important to get some fat in your diet, but foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar have been placed outside of the main Eatwell Guide as they're not necessary as part of a healthy, balanced diet and most of us need to cut down on these.

Unsaturated fats from plant sources (for example, vegetable oil or olive oil) are healthier types of fat.

But all types of fat are high in energy (calories), so they should only be eaten in small amounts.

On average, women should have around 2,000 calories a day (8,400 kilojoules) and men should have around 2,500 calories a day (10,500 kilojoules). We all need different amounts of energy (or calories) from food to be a healthy weight. How much you need depends on lots of things, including how active you are.

Find out how food labels can help you choose between foods and pick those lower in fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt.

Combination foods

Many foods, such as pizzas, casseroles, pasta dishes and sandwiches, are combinations of the food groups in the Eatwell Guide.

With these meals, check the ingredients and think about how these fit with the sections on the guide to help you achieve a balanced diet.

Does the Eatwell Guide apply to everyone?

The Eatwell Guide applies to most of us, whether we're a healthy weight or overweight, whether we eat meat or are vegetarian, and no matter what our ethnic origin.

Anyone with special dietary requirements or medical needs might want to check with a registered dietitian on how to adapt the Eatwell Guide to meet their individual needs.

Children under the age of 2

The Eatwell Guide does not apply to children under the age of 2 because they have different nutritional needs.

Between the ages of 2 and 5, children should gradually move to eating the same foods as the rest of the family in the proportions shown in the Eatwell Guide.

Read more about babies, toddlers and young children's nutritional needs in Your baby's first solid foods.

Download the Eatwell Guide booklet

For more information, including details of which foods are included in the food groups, download GOV.UK's The Eatwell Guide.

Healthy eating support

Food and diet advice on the NHS website includes:

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Page last reviewed: 29 November 2022
Next review due: 29 November 2025