Our physical, as well as mental wellbeing, has a lot to do with what we eat. Imagine our body as a machine. Not just any machine, a very sophisticated one. The body acts differently when we intake different types of food. The Eatwell plate helps people figure out the correct proportions of different types of food.
The food we eat acts as the fuel for our body. Every food we take enters our stomach and goes through chemical reactions. This reaction produces the energy we need to operate. Different kinds of food create different reactions in our body. Some foods support us to regulate soundly. On the contrary, some foods may cause discomforts.
A fact about food intake is that it’s all about the right proportions. Even a disproportionate amount of healthy and unhealthy food can cause our body to act unusually. So it’s a tightrope and there are several facets to it. Mainly a healthy diet depends on several aspects of your food intake. These are :
The type of food you are eating
The amount of energy your body can create from it
The way you look to spend the produced energy
The way your body reacts to it
To most people, it’s not something everyone may find easy to keep track of. Most people are somewhat likely to keep any trace of their eating habits at all. This is where the Eatwell plate comes into play. Recently the Eatwell plate has been renamed as Eatwell guide. So sometimes the Eatwell plate may also be referred to as the Eatwell guide. But they refer to the same thing.
What is the Eatwell plate?
Eatwell guide is an illustration that shows some of the main food groups and their recommended proportions for a healthy diet. The purpose of the Eatwell plate is to help people get a quick glimpse of the insights on their daily food intake.
The Eatwell plate was first officially issued by the government of the United Kingdom. The Department advised the idea of health. The idea is not as new. A similar thing used to exist known as The Balance of Good Health. Most other countries have their versions of a similar item.
Recently as of 2007, the government has renamed the Eatwell guide to Eatwell plate. The name was adjusted so that the name better reflects its purpose. There is no difference between the Eatwell guide and the Eatwell plate, and they refer to the same thing. So in this article, the terms Eatwell plate and Eatwell guide have been used interchangeably.
Why is the Eatwell plate necessary?
The Eatwell plate serves an essential purpose. It provides people with a reliable scientific evidence-based guideline to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Here we have pointed out the core points for you:
The Eatwell Guide introduces us to the various food groups
Please familiarise yourself with how much of what should we eat
Find out what proportion of what food makes a healthy, balanced diet
Understand the recommended amount and type of fluids are included
Get an understanding of maintaining an optimum body weight
Reaching weight loss goals
In general, the Eatwell plate has been devised to help people make better choices for themselves.
Using the Eatwell guide
People may find it hard to figure out how to interpret the information dropped in the Eatwell guide. So here are the details to help you fully grasp the elements represented in the Eatwell plate:
The Eatwell plate doest represent a particular meal. Instead, it refers to a specific time scale particular week or over ten days. This way, everyone gets his cheat days. But try not to get into cheating that often.
The Eatwell plate classifies each food group and shows you a percentage of how much you should eat of each food group.
The guide also recommends the right options to choose from to design your meal plan in a healthy way.
The leading group of foods that have been recommended in the guide are:
Whole grain and other starchy sources of carbohydrates
To make people eat a sufficient amount of green fruits and vegetables
Ensure a perfect balance in the intake of animal protein such as meat, fish, eggs and so on
Consume the ideal amount of proteins from vegetable sources such as beans, seeds and other forms of vegan protein
Eat a controlled amount of foods that contain fats
Regulate the amount of consumption of sugary drinks, unhealthy fats and salts
Consume ample dairy portions
To better understand the principle food ingredients, we will now discuss the principal food groups and discuss various food sections included in the Eatwell guide for your better understanding.
Seven food groups
Food is any substance consumed by all living organisms to provide energy to their body. The energy is used to carry out various physical and physiological activities. The whole living world has to give this energy daily. So the importance of food to the living is beyond recognition.
Nutrients are the main ingredients in the food that is used by living beings to produce energy. Dietary intake of the nutrient is vital for living to survive, grow, and reproduce.
Nutrients are broadly classified into two categories.
Macronutrients are the nutrients that provide our body with regulatory energy. So we need them in larger quantities to fulfil our energy needs. These are fat, protein and carbohydrates.
Micronutrients are what we need in smaller quantities such as vitamins and minerals.
Nutrition is the branch of science that interprets the nutrients. So the study of food is instrumental for proper maintenance, growth, reproduction, health and disease of an organism.
Studying all the different foods we eat, it has been divided into seven groups. Each group consists of similar food elements. To clarify, this has been done to make people aware of nutrition science is quickly consuming as little time as possible.
Among various types of food groups, we need to incorporate into our diets the following seven, particularly.
Carbohydrates also terms’ carbs’ provide the primary sources of energy to the body. Our body gets carbs from sugars, starches and fibres found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products. Some popular carbohydrates are bread, beans, milk, popcorn, potatoes, cookies, spaghetti.
Fat refers to an ester of fatty acids or a mixture of such compounds. They are found in nature and occur in living beings. Apart from that, fat is an essential nutrient for our bodies.
Essential vitamins and minerals from food are absorptions by fat. So fats boost the absorption capacity of our body. Fat also helps protect our internal organs. We get fats from fish, meat, eggs and the oils we consume.
3. Dietary Fiber
Dietary fibres come alongside edible parts of plants based carbohydrates. Although they are resistant to digestion and absorption, they assist in specific bio and physiological functions. They help in digestion by complete or partial fermentation in the large intestine. Polysaccharides, oligosaccharides, lignin, and associated plant substances are recognised as dietary fibre. They are found in fruits, vegetables, cereals, oatmeal and other foods.
Minerals are a type of micronutrients. These are the elements of the earth that our body needs to function correctly. Some of the essential minerals for our bodies are calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, iron, zinc, iodine, chromium, copper, fluoride, molybdenum, manganese, and selenium. Each of them assists in our body by playing a different role.
Proteins are the building blocks of cells in our body. Their role is critical for maintaining good health of a person. They also form our muscles and play a vital role in the production of essential enzymes and hormones.
Proteins take more time to generate than the time taken to accumulate. So including adequate portions of protein is very much crucial for optimal health. They even regulate the ageing process of our body.
Proteins are formed with amino acids. For this reason, they are also interchangeably termed as amino acids at times. The primary sources of proteins are meat, eggs, dairy, nuts, and beans.
Vitamins are essential micronutrients. They are needed in small amounts for the proper functioning of our body. Below is a list of vitamins and the role they play in our body.
Vitamin A is essential for our eyes. Besides promoting good eyesight, vitamin A plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, mucus membranes, and skin.
By far, one of the essential micronutrients, vitamin B plays a massive role in regulating energy levels, brain function, and cell metabolism. Vitamin B is one of the secrets of maintaining good health and wellbeing.
Also known by the name ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is found in sour fruits and vegetables. It plays an instrumental role in protecting cells and keeping them healthy, maintaining healthy skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage.
Vitamin D, combining with calcium, is vital to building our bones. The presence of Vitamin D is also essential to keep our immune system up and to run the right way.
Water is the single most ingredient necessary for life to exist. And this goes for human beings as well.
Food groups found on Eatwell plates
Among all the foods, the Eatwell guide has divided all of them into five main categories. These components are discussed below.
1. Fruit and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables should make up just over a third of the food intake each day. Eating five portions of fruits and vegetables combined should do enough for a day.
You can also attempt to mix up your meals and eat a variety of different fruits and vegetables. No matter whether the fruits are fresh, frozen or dried, they all count. You can even try adding unsweetened fruit juice and vegetables to the menu. Beetroot and carrot juice are two healthy as well as tasty options.
It’s recommended not to add less sugar, salt, oil, or any creamy sauces to your vegetables. For fresh fruits and vegetables, each portion can be 80g for dried fruits. It’s better to lower the consumption of dried fruit to a minimum of 30g.
2. Potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates
The next larger proportion on the Eatwell guide that provides us with the most energy is carbohydrates. They compose a third of our total food consumption.
Choosing whole-grain high-grade fibres over white carbs is a wise choice. Besides, starchy and fibery foods such as cereals, porridge and chapatis are some great options. Low GI brown rice is also a good substitute for traditional white rice. It’s also wise not to base your meals around this particular food group.
3. Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins
All the foods mentioned above are critical sources of proteins, vitamins and minerals. And they are instrumental in regulating various physiological functions of our body.
Foods like beans, peas, lentils are all healthy plant sources of protein. So they are an excellent alternative to plant sources of protein. Another advantage with them is they are high in protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. On the other hand, as they are plant-based they are low in fat.
Fish is also a very healthy source of protein. It’s recommended to have at least two portions of it every week (2x140g). You are also advised to keep one oily fish on your menu each week such as salmon, pilchard, sardines and mackerel.
You are also advised to consume red meat such as beef, pork and mutton in a controlled manner. It’s a good idea to control processed meat consumption such as sausage and cured meats in the same vein. Fat-free meat lean meat is the best for day to day consumption. Consumption of meat should not exceed 70g per day.
4. Dairy and alternatives
In the case of dairy, it’s advised to choose the low fat and low sugar options. You can choose milk, cheese, yoghurt, fromage frais, quark, and the non-dairy alternative for consumption from this group.
It’s recommended you switch whole milk for skimmed milk or 1% fat milk. Various low-fat versions of milk, cheese and yoghurt are now widely available in the market.
As you are less likely to eat dairy products daily, you must get the best ones for your consumption. You may try dairy products every alternate day.
People resistant to dairy may look for other dairy alternatives such as soya, oat, rice or coconut milk. In this case, you are advised to eat the less sweetened calcium-fortified options.
5. Oils and spreads
Fats and oils are essential for our diet as they play vital roles in our body. But its also the ones we need to be the most careful about.
Saturated fats are not healthy for our body. So we better look out for unsaturated ones such as rapeseed, olive or sunflower oils as healthier alternatives.
It’s wise to swap butter with other tastier and healthier spreads.
Fats are very high in energy(Kcals). By cutting down on consumption and looking for healthier ones, we can keep our weight in control.
Foods to eat less often in small amounts
The primary criteria for healthy eating are to avoid all unhealthy foods in the first place. Foods containing high fat and high sugar are to be avoided to this extent.
Some of these foods are cakes, pastries, chocolate, sweets, puddings, ice cream, jam, honey, crisps, soft drinks, sauces, butter, cream and mayonnaise. Such types of foods are to be eaten very occasionally in small amounts. Say suppose once in a week.
Eating various food each day that touches each food group will help you keep up with your nutrient needs. The average consumption of different types of foods in the Eatwell guide should be between the following percentage. These are:
potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohydrate foods should range to 38% of total food consumption
fruit and vegetables should be the highest with 40% dairy and alternatives foods account for 8% of total consumption
beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein should be around 12%
oils and spreads are to be consumed less often in small amount this 1%
Keeping total consumption around this percentage will help you maintain a healthy diet and balance your weight.
Eatwell plate portion sizes
Portion sizes of Eatwell plate are detailed as follows:
Fruit and vegetables should include at least portions per day. A total of 2-3 cups of vegetables and 1.5-2 cups of fruit will do for a day(Each cup measures 80g).
Starchy carbohydrates are to be eaten at the rate of 3-4 portions per day. Try to limit each serving to 75 grams when dry.
Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins may include 2-3 portions per day.
You are allowed to eat around 2-3 portions of dairy and its alternatives per day. But this depends on the rest of your diet. An ounce of cheese and a glass of low-fat milk is enough for a day. You can also alternate your intake of dairy depending on your net food intake.
Daily calorie requirements
Calories are the measure of energy we get from the food and drinks we eat. The average calorie intake for women is 2000 calorie, and for men, it is 2500 calorie. The measure of calorie intake may also vary depending on the following factors:
Depending on age, the calorie requirements may fluctuate. these are as follows:
Kids between 6-12 may need 1600-2000 calories.
An average teen to young adults from 13-25 may need 2000-2200 calories per day.
The calorie requirement goes down to 1800-2000 calories for individuals above the age of 25.
These numbers are based on men. For women, the number is adjusted by subtracting 200 calories from each.
One of the main criteria of the calorie intake of a person is a person’s daily activity. If someone leads a very active lifestyle naturally, he has to cover for the work he does by taking extra calories.
A person’s height and weight also determines how much calorie he has to consume. Usually, larger people consume more energy when they move. Even their physiological activities take up more energy. So the total energy consumption of a person is also somewhat dependent on his size.
How to read food labels
Food labels help consumers with information regarding the product they are buying. It is the fundamental right of consumers to get info while purchasing a product. Nutrition labels help consumers get an idea of what they are buying while shopping. The labels also help consumers make decisions on what to buy and what not to.
To some people, it can be challenging to figure out how to read the nutrition label. But it is easy once you figure out how to. Here is how you can read a nutrition label:
First of all, read the ingredients list. Everything that goes into a product is listed at the back. The list is in order of big to small. The things appearing first are present in more amounts than the stuff at the bottom.
Check the nutrition table. There is a table at the back of the pack giving the per 100g of the product. The table describes the presence of different nutrition elements presents per 100g portion. Fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar are the ones to watch out for as their presence risks high blood pressure and weight gain. The other highlighted ones are carbohydrates, proteins, fibres and any other ingredients the product might consist of.
A calorie count on the label denotes the total number of calories a person will gain upon consuming the product.
Keeping all the deliverable in mind while grocery shopping will help us identify the most suitable products best for our health.
8 Tips for eating healthy to lose weight
A healthy diet consists of all the variety of food ingredients. The key to healthy eating depends on balancing the right elements in the perfect proportions. Here are some healthy eating strategies that will regulate your metabolic activities in the right way:
Choose the right carbs
Base your meals with the right kinds of carbohydrates and scratches. You better try to put whole-grain foods wherever possible. Foods like whole-grain bread, brown rice, porridge, cereal, chapatis are best to base your meal.
Aim to eat a lot of green fruits and vegetables. They help accommodate for the digestive system. You may also include juices and healthy spreads to spice up your eating habits.
Prioritise your Breakfast
By all means, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Giving the pace body a balanced meal at the beginning of the day sets the pace for the rest of the day. So a healthy meal is just what you need to start off your day on the right foot.
Try to increase your activity. Mobilising will regulate your energy cycle. If you find it hard to mobilise and exercise, you can always start by planking. It is the best way to activate all your body muscles with just a single move. From there on, you can gradually begin to do more high-intensity exercises.
Eat a lot of fish
Eating more fish is excellent to provide your body with the protein it needs. It is an excellent source of healthy lean protein. Oily fishes do wonders to our overall health.
Cut down fat and sugar
Cutting down on the consumption of saturated fat and sugar is a good strategy for healthy eating. Fat and sugar provoke weight gain and cause blood pressure and heart problems. So it’s better to avoid these types of foods.
Eat less salt
You better consume salt at a reasonable level. The maximum allowed amount of salt is below 6 grams a day.
Hydrating throughout the day is a great way to keep the body uplifted. Consumption of water 6-10 times a day is ideal for us. The maximum allowed portion is around 150 ml at a time to maintain balanced hydration levels.
There is a saying that goes by this ‘we are everything we eat’. The variety of food we introduce to our diet the more diverse we can think and work. Healthy eating can have a deep-rooted influence in every aspect of our life. Nothing regulates our body and mind more than the food we eat. So healthy eating is what we need to ensure a sound body and a sound mind.
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