The new dietary advice from Public Health England (PHE) has just been released. The “Eatwell Guide” replaces the “Eatwell Plate” and includes updated dietary recommendations amongst 5 food groups for a healthy and balanced diet.
THE OLD VERSION
THE NEW VERSION
The first obvious change is the purple section which now includes only oils & fats. It was previously labelled “food and drinks high in fat and sugar”, and these have now been placed outside of the main image to reflect the need for very occasional consumption.
Also, the proportions of Fruits & Vegetables (green section) and Starchy Carbohydrates (yellow section) have been increased while Dairy (blue section) has gone down.
The names of some sections have also been updated to reflect more environmentally sustainable choices such as ‘Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins in the pink section (note that meat is not first mentioned anymore!!).
You will also find additional message guidelines such as choosing wholegrain, eating less red and processed meat, eating a variety of fruits & vegetables and eating more beans and pulses plus 2 portions of sustainable fish per week.
It is great to see the “Eat Less Meat” and “Less Dairy” message in the official dietary guidelines. Personally, I wish that nuts and seeds, which provide valuable macro and micronutrients, were given a more prominent role than just a bag of plain nuts. Also the advise that we should eat 2 portions of fish (even from sustainable sources) a week is certainly not in line with the current overfishing crisis.
The Eatwell Guide is far from perfect but it is a good start for anyone trying to get their diet in a healthy balance.
So what should you aim for with the new Eatwell Guide?
FRUITS & VEGETABLES
- This group should make up around 40% of your diet.
- Eat at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables a day (1 portion is 80g which equates to a handful).
- Eat the rainbow, try to get as many colours as you can.
- Frozen or fresh it all counts.
- Juices and smoothies also count but only as 1 portion a day – no matter how much you drink. Because of the sugar content, it is best to limit yourself to 150ml a day.
POTATOES, BREAD, RICE, PASTA OR OTHER STARCHY CARBOHYDRATES
- This group should make up around 38% of your diet.
- Choose wholegrain for increased fibre.
- Watch out for added salt, sugar and fat content. Breakfast cereals for example are a minefield. Don’t forget to read labels.
BEANS, PULSES, FISH, EGG, MEAT AND OTHER PROTEINS
- This group should make up around 12% of your diet.
- Eat more vegetarian source of protein
- Eat 2 portions of sustainably sourced fish per week (1 should be oily)
- Eat less red meat and processed meat (limit to 70g a day)
DAIRY & ALTERNATIVES
- This group should make up around 8% of your diet.
- Choose lower fat and lower sugar options.
- When consuming dairy alternatives do look out for products with added calcium.
OILS & SPREADS
- This group should make up around 1% of your diet.
- Choose unsaturated oils (any fat that is liquid at room temperature) and spreads.
- Consume in small amounts.
(Source: Public Health England. Note that percentages above add up to 99% due to rounding up)
If you are looking to make your diet more sustainable you can additionally strive to:
- Eat more seasonal and local fruits and vegetables.
- Eat less meat, fish, dairy and eggs.
- Eat more protein-dense plant-based food such as pulses, beans, nuts, seeds, quinoa etc..
- When eating animal products, choose higher welfare animal products (meat, fish, dairy and eggs).
- Buy organic whenever possible.