Current dietary advice (Eatwell Guide, nutritional information, consumer advice)

Current dietary advice (Eatwell Guide, nutritional information, consumer advice)

Current Dietary Advice

The Eatwell Guide

  • The Eatwell Guide is the UK government’s official food guide, designed to illustrate the proportions of different food groups that make up a healthy, balanced diet.

  • It divides foods into five groups: fruits and vegetables; potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates; beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins; dairy and alternatives; and oils and spreads.

  • It advocates for at least five portions of a variety of fruits and vegetables each day, and to base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates.

  • It recommends choosing beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (with a push towards more beans and pulses, and two portions of sustainably sourced fish a week, one of which should be oily).

  • Dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) should be consumed, opting for lower fat and lower sugar options.

  • Small amounts of oils and spreads are recommended, and to choose unsaturated oils and use in small amounts.

  • The guide also advises on hydration, suggesting 6-8 glasses of fluid (preferably water) a day.

  • Foods high in fat, salt and sugars are not needed for health and should not be consumed in large amounts or frequently.

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Information on food packaging helps consumers make informed choices about the food they eat.

  • These labels indicate the amount of energy (calories), protein, carbohydrate, sugar, fat, saturates, fibre and salt the food contains.

  • ‘Reference intakes’ (formerly known as Guideline Daily Amounts) are used on food labels to show how much of the nutrients a serving of the food contributes towards the total daily nutrient needs of an adult.

  • Traffic light system on many food and drink labels makes it easier to understand the nutritional content - with red indicating high amounts of unhealthy nutrients, amber a medium amount, and green indicating the healthier choice.

Consumer Advice

  • Be label aware, understand the nutritional information presented, and use it to make healthier food choices.

  • Compare different products and opt for the lower salt, sugar, and saturated fat options when available.

  • Notice portion sizes, they may be more or less than the quantity you would normally consume in a sitting.

  • Variety is the key. No single food will provide all the essential nutrients - a mixture of foods from the different groups is necessary.

  • Planning meals and snacks is useful to ensure you are getting a variety of nutrients throughout the day.

  • Remember that ‘low-fat’ does not always mean ‘healthy’ - some low-fat foods may still have a high sugar content.

  • Regularly consuming foods and drinks high in sugar increases your risk of obesity and tooth decay, try to cut down on sugary fizzy drinks, sugary breakfast cereals, cakes, biscuits and pastries.