General eating well advice

Meals and snacks should be based around these two food groups:
General eating well advice

• Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods. These should make up a third of the daily diet.
• Fruit and vegetables. These should make up about a third of the daily diet. Have a variety. Eat at least 5 portions a day.
It is also important to include foods from these two food groups:
• Milk and dairy foods. These provide useful nutrients and these, or alternative foods which contain the same nutrients, should be eaten every day in moderate amounts. Choose lower-fat dairy products.
• Meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein. These contain essential nutrients and should be consumed in moderate amounts every day.
• Foods and drinks high in fat and/or sugar should be limited in the diet as eating these foods and drinks means that it may be harder to get all the nutrients you need without having too much energy (calories).

Food group: Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods

Starchy foods - which include bread, rice, potatoes and pasta - should make up a third of the daily diet. Eating a variety of breads and other starchy foods such as rice and pasta, including those with more wholegrain flour, will add additional nutrients and fiber to the diet.Starchy foods are a good source of energy and the main source of a range of nutrients in the diet. As well as starch, these foods supply fiber, calcium, iron and B vitaminsAll varieties of bread including whole meal, granary and seeded breads, chapattis, bagels, roti, tortillas and pitta bread. Potatoes, yam, cocoyam, dasheen, breadfruit and cassava. Breakfast cereals. Rice, couscous, Bulgar wheat, maize (polenta) and cornmeal. Noodles, spaghetti and other pastas.


• Potatoes are a useful starchy food as they are cheap, locally produced, contain a range of useful nutrients and are very versatile.
• Serve more pasta and rice and use less sauce.
• When serving rice and pasta, try to use whole meal, wholegrain, brown or high-fiber versions.
• Some breakfast cereals are nutrient-fortified (that is, with added iron, folic acid and other vitamins and minerals), but avoid those that are high in sugar (those with more than 15 g of sugar per 100 g of cereal).
• Have a variety of breads, such as seeded, wholegrain and granary. Use thicker slices and have low-fat options for fillings.
• If you are making chips or fried potatoes, use large pieces of potato and have thick or straight-cut chips as these absorb less fat.
• Baked potatoes do not need to have butter or margarine added when served with moist fillings or sauces.
• For people who have allergies to wheat, oats, barley and rye, good alternatives to offer are foods made from maize (such as polenta), rice, rice flour, potatoes, potato flour, buckwheat, sago, tapioca, soya and soya flour.
• Cereal foods which are good sources of iron and zinc include fortified cereals, wholegrain cereals, whole meal bread and flour, couscous and whole meal pasta.

Food group: Fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables should make up about a third of the daily diet. Try and eat at least 5 portions a day. A portion is about 80g (a whole fruit, like an apple or orange, or 2 to 3 tablespoons of vegetables, or a small glass of fruit juice.) A glass of 100% fruit juice can count as 1 portion of fruit each day. Dried fruit contains useful nutrients but if eaten between meals can damage teeth. So eat dried fruit with meals - for example, with breakfast cereals or desserts. Aim for 1 or 2 portions of fruit or vegetables with each meal, and have fruit and vegetables as snacks.Fruit and vegetables are good sources of many vitamins and minerals. There is evidence that consuming 400g or more of fruit and vegetables a day reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease and some cancers. Including fruits and vegetables in the diet will help to increase the intake of fiber. All type of fresh, frozen and canned vegetables - for example, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, frozen peas, peppers, swede and sweetcorn. Beans and pulses, including baked beans, chick peas and kidney beans. All types of salad vegetables, including lettuce, cucumber, tomato, raw carrots, peppers and beetroot. All types of fresh fruit - for example, apples, bananas, kiwi fruit, oranges, pears, mango and plums. All types of canned fruit in fruit juice - for example, pineapple, peaches and mandarin oranges. Stewed fruit. Dried fruit. Fruit juice (100% juice).


• Steaming or cooking vegetables with minimum amounts of water, and serving them as soon as possible, will help retain vitamins.
• Use fresh fruit and vegetables as soon as possible, rather than storing them, to avoid vitamin loss.
• Incorporate fruit and vegetables in snack options. Many vegetables can be eaten raw.
• Add vegetables and pulses to curries, casseroles or stir-fry dishes and serve at least two types of vegetables with fish, chicken or meat.
• Have a daily glass of fruit juice (100% juice, unsweetened) with a meal. Breakfast is a good time to have a glass of fruit juice.
• Add a handful of dried fruit to cereals, porridge and desserts like rice pudding.
• Raw vegetables can increase color, taste and texture at mealtimes, but if eating vegetables and fruit raw, always wash them before eating.
• Add extra vegetables to dishes such as Bolognese sauce, shepherd’s pie, curries, stews and soups.
• Fruit and vegetables which are useful sources of iron include spinach, broccoli, spring greens, dried apricots, raisins, baked beans, broad beans and blackcurrants.
• Fruit and vegetables which are useful sources of folic acid include spinach, broccoli, peas, oranges, melon, green leafy salads and tomatoes.
• Fruit and vegetables which are useful non-dairy sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables, dried fruit and oranges.

Food group: Milk and dairy foods

Have dairy foods such as milk, yogurt and cheese every day (if you eat these foods). Have low-fat options such as semi-skimmed milk or 1% fat milk, low-fat yogurt and reduced-fat cheeses. Vegetarians should not rely on cheese as the main protein item. If you can't eat dairy foods, calcium-fortified unsweetened soya milk can be used instead of cow's or other animal milk.Milk and dairy products are good sources of calcium, protein and vitamin A. Calcium helps to contribute to good bone health. The fat content of different dairy products varies and much of this is saturated fatSkimmed, semi-skimmed, 1% fat and whole milk. Dried milk, goats and sheep's milk. Cheeses - for example, Cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, cheese spreads, feta, Edam, goat's cheese, Parmesan. For cheeses to avoid during pregnancy. Yogurt. Fromage frais


• Choose reduced-fat hard cheeses, cottage cheese or low-fat soft cheese.
• Some dairy products can contain high levels of salt. Look for lower-salt cheeses and use smaller amounts of stronger cheese rather than larger amounts of milder cheese.
• Have semi-skimmed, 1% fat or skimmed milk, and low-fat yogurts and fromage frais.
• Use plain yogurt or fromage frais instead of cream, soured cream or crème fraîche in recipes.
• Try frozen yoghurts as an alternative to ice cream.
• For those on dairy-free diets, serve unsweetened calcium-fortified soya milk as an alternative to milky drinks.
• Restrict sweetened milk drinks to mealtimes, as the sugars in these drinks can damage the teeth.

Food group: Meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein

Eat a variety of meat and meat alternatives at main meals. Use lean meat (meat which has a fat content of about 10%) and limit the amount of processed meat products consumed, such as sausages, burgers, canned meats, pies, pasties and crumbed or battered meat products.Meat and meat alternatives are a good source of protein, vitamins and zinc. Some meat and meat products can contain a lot of fat, saturated fat and salt, and buying meat diluted with other ingredients is poor value for money.Meat includes all cuts of beef, pork, lamb, poultry (chicken and turkey), game (such as venison or rabbit), offal (such as kidney or heart), and meat products such as bacon, sausages, beef burgers, pies and cold meats such as ham or salami.
It is strongly recommended that oil-rich fish - such as salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, pilchards or sardines - should be eaten once a week. Limit the amount of processed fish and dishes (such as fish cakes, fish fingers and battered fish products).Oil-rich fish provides a good source of omega 3 fats, which may help to protect against heart disease. Oil-rich fish are also a source of vitamins A and D. Fish products such as fish cakes and fish fingers may have a low fish content and may be high in fat and salt.Fish includes all fresh and frozen fish (including cod, haddock, mackerel, salmon and trout), canned fish (such as sardines, tuna and pilchards) and shellfish or crustaceans (such as crab, lobster, prawns and mussels).
Eggs can be eaten at breakfast and as part of main meals.Eggs are a good source of protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, choline and some minerals.Boiled, poached or scrambled eggs, or omelets.
Vegetarians should eat a range of meat alternatives.Beans, pulses, eggs, meat alternatives and nuts all provide good sources of nutrients.Beans and pulses such as chick peas, lentils, kidney beans, butter beans, textured vegetable protein, nuts, nut butters, seeds, soya products such as tofu, and Quorn


• Eggs and canned pulses such as chick peas and red kidney beans, or easy-to-use dried pulses such as lentils, are cheap alternatives to meat and fish. There are lots of useful recipes using these in this resource.
• Buy good-quality meat and use smaller amounts.
• Use more vegetables, pulses and starchy food to make meals go further, and to add more texture and flavor. This will also mean that less meat is needed, reducing both the fat content and the cost of the meal.
• Avoid cheap processed meat products such as sausages, burgers, canned meat products, coated and battered products, pies, pasties and sausage rolls. These often contain small amounts of meat but lots of fat and salt, and are not good nutritional value for money.
• Always cook meat dishes thoroughly, particularly if they are bought ready-prepared. Make sure that any leftover meat dishes are stored and reheated safely.
• Tinned fish provides useful nutrients and can be a cost-effective ingredient in recipes.
• Frozen fish is often cheaper than fresh fish.
• Buy fish from sustainable fish stocks.
• Reduce the amount of processed fish products eaten – particularly those that are fried or coated, such as fish fingers or fish cakes – as these are often poor nutritional value for money.

Foods and drinks high in fat and/or sugar

Fatty and sugary foods can add palatability to the diet but should be eaten in small amounts each day. Reduce the amount of foods containing fat - for example, fat spreads and butter, cooking oils and mayonnaise. Other foods containing fat and sugar - such as cakes and biscuits - should be eaten only occasionally. Foods that are high in fat and/or sugar often provide a lot of calories and a lower proportion of other nutrients. Some foods in this group are also high in sodium/salt. Foods and drinks containing sugar often contain few other nutrients, and having them frequently between meals can contribute to tooth decay.Foods high in fat include: butter, margarine, other spreading fats and low-fat spreads, cooking oils, oil-based salad dressings, mayonnaise, cream, chocolate, crisps, biscuits, pastries, cakes, puddings, ice cream, rich sauces, and gravies. Foods and drinks high in sugar include: soft drinks, sweets, chocolate, jams, sugar, cakes, puddings, biscuits, pastries and ice cream.


• Use fat spreads rich in monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats.
• Use cooking oils high in monounsaturated, such as soya, rapeseed or olive oils.
• Avoid serving pastry dishes frequently.
• Have low-fat yoghrt with puddings or pies, rather than cream.
• Base desserts on fresh fruit, canned fruit in juice, and yogurt or low-fat custard.
• Have water, unsweetened fruit juices and chilled milk drinks rather than sugary soft drinks.
• Have wholegrain or plain cereals rather than sugar-coated cereals.
• If you currently add sugar to hot drinks such as tea and coffee, try cutting back a little bit at a time to get used to a less sweet taste.
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