Government healthy eating recommendations
Government healthy eating recommendations are visually depicted in the Eatwell Guide and are based on recommendations from the following organisations;
- World Health Organisation (WHO) (1,2)
- Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy (COMA) (3,4)
- Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) that succeeded COMA in 2000 (5-10)
The Eatwell Guide is a very useful tool to use with parents and carers. It will give them clear guidance on the proportions of each of the key nutrients needed to maintain a healthy balanced diet.
Important note – Your role is to direct parents/carers to or use the Government and NHS guidelines to pass on helpful information and not to give out or design individual diets for adults or children unless you are a qualified dietitian.
This section provides a brief outline of the Government and NHS guidelines for healthy eating for adults and children under 5 years old.
The links given throughout will direct you to further reading that supports the guidelines.
The Eatwell Guide
The following information is available at www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-eatwell-guide
The Eatwell Guide is a pictorial representation of government healthy eating advice showing the proportions which different types of foods are needed to have a well-balanced and healthy diet.
The proportions shown are representative of your food consumption for a day or even a week, not necessarily each mealtime.
The Eatwell Guide does not apply to children under the age of two, because they have different nutritional needs. From the ages of 2-5 children should gradually move to eat the same foods as the rest of the family, in the proportions shown on the Eatwell guide.
This section will look at the key nutrients that make up a balanced healthy diet such as:
- Carbohydrates – provide the body with energy.
- Protein – Transport substances in the blood, allowing growth and repair of human tissue.
- Fat – Form an important component of cell membranes, helps the body to use the fat-soluble vitamins, provide insulation under the skin and protection of internal organs.
- Fibre – Insoluble fibre which passes through the gut intact and helps to increase stool bulk and Soluble fibre to help to lower blood cholesterol.
- Vitamins and minerals – Vital for normal growth, repair and daily functioning of the body.
- Water – Transporting nutrients and compounds in blood, removing waste products that are passed in the urine and acting as a lubricant and shock absorber in joints and regulates the body’s temperature.
The Eatwell Guide will show the nutrients as groups of foods such as;
- Fruit and vegetables
- Potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates
- Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins
- Dairy and alternatives
- Oils and spreads
- Foods high in fats and sugar
The plate is split into 5 segments to represent the 5 food groups as follows:
- Potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohydrate foods: 38 %
- Fruit and vegetables: 41 %
- Dairy and alternatives: 8%
- Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein: 12 %
- Oils and spreads: 1%
Segment proportions should remain as specified, in the positions illustrated on the guide graphic.
- The Eatwell Guide and all supporting information are available from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-eatwell-guide
- World Health Organisation. Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases. 2003. Available from: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/trs/WHO_TRS_916.pdf
- World Health Organisation. Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases. 1990. Available from: http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/obesity/WHO_TRS_797/en/index.html
- Department of Health. Report on health and social subjects 46 nutritional aspects of cardiovascular disease. Report on the cardiovascular review group Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy. London: HMSO; 1994
- Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy. Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom. London: HMSO; 1991
- Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. Vitamin D and Health. London: TSO; 2016. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sacn-vitamin-d-and-health-report
- Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. Carbohydrates and Health. London: TSO; 2015. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sacn-carbohydrates-and-healthreport
- Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. Dietary Reference Values for Energy. London: TSO; 2011. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sacn-dietaryreference-values-for-energy
- Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. Iron and Health. London: TSO; 2010. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sacn-iron-and-health-report
- Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. Advice on Fish Consumption: Benefits and Risks. London: TSO; 2004. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sacn-adviceon-fish-consumption