The subject of today’s blog is the new Eatwell Guide, an update of the Eatwell plate, released in early 2017.
This is a visual representation of the kind of foods that we should be eating for a healthy and well-balanced diet. It also contains information about the proportions of these foods, and advice on drink, including alcoholic drink.
WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE GUIDE?
The idea is to make healthy eating easier to understand and to encourage people to follow a balanced diet.
WHICH FOODS ARE RECOMMENDED?
Most of us are aware that we should be consuming our ‘Five a day’ – at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day.
Other recommendations include:
- Choosing wholegrain and higher fibre versions of starchy foods such as potatoes, bread, rice and pasta; reducing consumption of carbohydrates with high fat, salt and sugar content (see our blog on The benefits of reducing sugar intake)
- Consuming lower fat and lower sugar options of dairy and/or dairy substitutes such as soy drinks
- Including more beans and pulses in our diet; eating less red meat and replacing with two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily fish (see our blogs on The role of protein and Pescetarianism and Veganism)
- Only consuming small amounts of oils and spreads and choosing unsaturated options
WHAT ABOUT DRINKS?
The recommendation is that we drink six to eight cups or glasses of fluid a day, ideally sugar-free.
Fruit juice, which was previously included in the fruit and vegetable section, now sits outside the guide, with a recommendation that consumption of fruit juice and smoothies should be limited to 150ml a day.
The guidelines on alcohol have also changed – they now say that there is no “safe” drinking level.
Drinking fewer than 14 units a week is now considered “low risk” (rather than “safe”).
Those who regularly drink more than 14 units a week have a much higher risk of developing the following diseases:
- Cancers of the mouth, throat and breast
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- Brain damage
- Damage to the nervous system
See our blog on Alcohol – What every personal trainer should know.
HOW MANY CALORIES A DAY ARE RECOMMENDED?
The advice on the Eatwell Guide is around 2,000 calories a day for women and 2,500 for men.
However, this can vary significantly depending on how active an individual is. A sedentary person with a desk job will not require as many calories as someone with an active job or someone who regularly works out at the gym with a personal trainer.
See our blogs on Food Tracking Apps and BMRS – Calories, body fat and burning energy.
OTHER KEY CHANGES TO THE EATWELL GUIDE
Following research, the design of the guide has been changed to be more appealing, in particular to those who are less likely to follow a healthy diet.
Other key changes include:
- Inclusion of the importance of keeping hydrated
- Moving high-fat/high-sugar foods to sit outside the main image, to indicate that they should only be consumed occasionally
- Adding a new image of a food nutrition label used on packaged food (see our blog on Food Labels: Counting calories and hidden fat)
- Updating segment names to emphasise more environmentally sustainable foods (such as beans and pulses, over meat)
Consumers will still need to break down meals to work out if they have a good balance of food groups – for example a cottage pie would include meat or pulses from the protein section, potato from the starchy carbohydrates section, milk from the dairy section, and vegetables from the fruit and veg section.
More detailed information, such as portion sizes, can be found on the guide, along with suggestions about healthier options, such as eating leaner cuts of meat and reducing or eliminating processed meat from the diet, and reducing consumption of cakes, biscuits and sugary drinks or choosing low-fat, low-sugar options.