Healthy Eating

Hands up if you think you eat your 5 portions of fruit and veg every day? Hands up if you even know what a portion is? Hands up if you’re confused about what a healthy diet is?

There are many conflicting messages surrounding healthy eating these days so it’s difficult to know where to start when trying to feed a family healthy foods on a budget!

Does it need to be so complicated? No!
Do you need to give up foods you love? No!
Do you need to buy expensive brands and fresh foods? No, no, no!

So where do we start? The Eatwell Guide,, is a great starting place for anyone wanting to improve their diet and shows how much of each food group you should be eating to achieve a healthy balance. You don’t have to eat the suggested amounts each day, (except for fruit and veg), but, it shows how much of each food group should be making up your diet overall. The best thing is that although there are foods you should eat in moderation, nothing is banned! Sounds like my kind of thing!

Would it surprise you to know that just over a third of your diet should be based around healthy carbohydrates, such as, bread, pasta, rice, wholegrain cereals, potatoes etc? These foods give us energy and are low calorie. It’s what we eat with them that adds the calories, for example, lots of butter/jam or creamy sauces. If you can, choose high fibre or wholegrain options, (50/50 options are better for young children).

So what does a portion look like?
1 slice of bread/half a roll/half a pitta
2 egg sized potatoes
3 tablespoons of cooked rice/pasta
Aim to eat 2 portions with each main meal.

We all know that that we should eat a minimum of 5 portions of fruit and veg a day, but sometimes it seems easier said than done! Pick a variety of produce to give you a range of nutrients! Tinned, frozen and dried fruit are all fine to eat, they keep the cost down and minimise waste. Dried fruit, such as raisins, can be great for kids, just try to eat them with main meals to help counteract the sugar content.

What is a portion?
80g of fruit or veg. 40g for young children
1 whole fruit, such as an apple or banana
30g of dried fruit
Text Box150ml of fruit juice/smoothies (unsweetened and only once per day). Not recommended for children under 5

Try to have some milk or dairy or dairy alternative each day, ideally 2-3 portions. Calcium is essential for healthy teeth and bones. Dairy can be high in fat, so opt for lighter and low sugar versions when possible. From the age of 2 children can have semi-skimmed milk Children over 5 years can have skimmed milk.

What is a portion?
200ml of milk or alternative.
30g of cheese.
A small yoghurt or fromage frais.

Eat moderate amounts of meat/fish/eggs/beans/pulses – 2-3 portions a day. Aim to eat 2 portions of fish a week, 1 of those being oily, (salmon/fresh tuna). If you or your children don’t like fish, look for products with added Omega 3. These foods provide us with protein which is essential for development and growth. Red meats/eggs/ pulses provide us with iron, a key nutrient, particularly in the early years, that once missed cannot be replaced.

What does a portion look like?
2 eggs
3 tbsp baked beans, (can also count as 1 of your 5 a day)
80g (cooked weight) of meat and poultry
140g (cooked weight) white and oily fish
120g soya, tofu or quorn

Foods that are high in fat or sugar should be eaten in moderation. They are not essential for a healthy diet, so there’s no need to eat them at all. (Remember, fats and sugars used when cooking count, as do those in drinks).

Leanne Hawker – NHS Food Champion

For further information visit and Change4Life