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Following the Eatwell Guide at home

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Tips for eating more fruit and vegetables

Aiming to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day may seem like a big ask, but it isn't as hard as it sounds. The tips below can help.

Pick from different forms of fruit and vegetables

Your five daily fruit and vegetable portions can come in many forms, not just fresh. You can choose from fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced fruits and vegetables. You could:

  • Swap a mid-morning biscuit for a banana
  • Add a side salad to your lunch
  • Enjoy raw carrot sticks as an afternoon snack

Please note that a glass of fruit juice or smoothie only counts as one portion of fruit or vegetables a day. It's also recommended to drink juice in the morning. This is so you're not having the juice's concentrated sugars close to bedtime.

When a fruit is juiced or blended to make a smoothie, it releases its sugars. These then count towards your sugar intake for the day - .

You can still add portions in the evening

It's never too late in the day to add in more fruit and vegetables to hit your 5 a day target.

Have a portion of vegetables with dinner and fresh fruit with low-fat yoghurt for dessert.

Eat a rainbow

If you count how many portions you're having, it might help you increase the amount and variety of fruit and veg you eat.

Aim to eat a rainbow by trying  lots of different coloured fruit and vegetables. For example, yellow bell pepper, blueberries, red watermelon, orange satsuma, purple cabbage.

Our healthy eating diary can help you to do this.

You can have more than 5 portions

It's important to remember that you can eat more than 5 portions a day. You should try to split them between fruits and vegetables.

Find out more about portion sizes for fruit and vegetables at What is healthy eating: The Eatwell Guide.

You can also read more about the benefits of eating the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables.

Tips for eating more starchy foods (carbohydrates)

Starchy foods or carbohydrates are those such as bread, potatoes, pasta and rice. This type of food plays an important role in our diet.

The following tips will help you to eat the right sorts of starchy foods.

Have starchy foods with every meal

You may wish to include a form of starchy food in each of your meals. If so, try to avoid anything 'white and fluffy'. This means white bread, white pasta, etc. Choose wholegrain varieties instead.

You may want to include some of the options below into your daily routine:

  • Breakfast: start the day with a wholegrain breakfast cereal. Examples of these are oatmeal porridge, wheat biscuits (such as Weetabix or Shredded Wheat) or bran flakes. Whatever you choose, when you're shopping, take a look at the packet to make sure it's low in fats and sugars. Find out more about reading food labels.     
  • Lunch: if having a sandwich for lunch, then wholegrain bread is a healthier choice than brown.
  • Dinner or tea: Use potatoes (new potatoes), wholemeal pasta or brown rice as a base for your evening meal.

Look up some recipes to get some inspiration for meals.

Go for wholegrain options

Choose higher-fibre, wholegrain varieties when you can. Try wholewheat pasta, brown rice and wholemeal bread.

Don't forget about fibre too

Potatoes with the skins on are a great source of fibre (which helps you feel fuller for longer) and vitamins. For example, when having a jacket potato, eat the skin too.

Try eating half-and-half

You might try wholemeal pasta or brown rice and not see it as something you could make the switch to. So you could try half and half (half of your meal your normal white pasta and half with a new wholemeal pasta). You could also buy high fibre white versions of bread and pasta. These help increase your fibre intake, using a like-for-like substitute of family favourites.

Don't add fat

Watch the fats you add when you're cooking and serving these types of starchy foods. They can increase the calorie content (butter with mashed potato, creamy pasta sauces). You may like to try adding skimmed milk instead.

For healthier ways to cook, see our cooking methods guide.

Tips for eating more beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins

Following the below tips can help you to make sure you're eating the right amount of beans, pulses, fish, eggs and meat.

These all contain proteins which are essential for the body to grow and repair itself.  Please note, if you consume a vegetarian or vegan diet, not all the points listed may be applicable.

Examples of a portion of protein:

  • 2 medium eggs
  • 3 fish fingers
  • A handful of nuts
  • Half a can of beans
  • 3 slices of cooked meat
  • 150g fish

Swap meat for fish or eggs

Red meat is a great source of protein but you don't just have to eat meat to make sure you're getting enough.

Eggs and fish are also good sources of protein and contain many vitamins and minerals too.

Make more use of beans and pulses

Beans (kidney, pinto, cannellini), peas (chickpeas, black-eyed peas) and lentils (red, green, brown) are all types of pulses. They are also known as legumes.

They're good alternatives to meat because they're very low in fat, and high in fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. It's easy to add lentils into casseroles or soups and they help keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Avoid cooking dried lentils or beans in a slow cooker though, as the low heat isn't enough to kill the toxins. Canned beans are already cooked, so these are fine to add straight from the can. Always check the preparation instructions.

Try vegetable-based protein foods

Other vegetable-based sources of protein include tofu, bean curd and something called mycoprotein, more commonly known as Quorn (a meat replacement). They are all worth a try and are widely available in most retailers. 

Most can be cooked in similar ways to how you would cook meat, but the specific instructions will be listed in the packaging.

Cut down on fat

Some types of meat are high in fat, particularly saturated fat. So when you're buying meat, remember the type of cut or product you choose, plus how you cook it, can make a big difference.

Find out more about ways to cook healthily with our cooking methods guide.

To cut down on fat:

  • Choose lean cuts of meat and go for leaner mince
  • Cut the fat off meat (such as bacon) and remove the skin from chicken
  • Try to grill meat and fish instead of frying and have a boiled or poached egg instead of fried

Tips for eating more dairy and alternatives

There are two ways to eat dairy products more healthily:

  • You could consume less
  • You could switch to a lower-fat product and still eat the same amount

Learn more about how much dairy or dairy alternatives you should be eating each day at What is healthy eating: The Eatwell Guide.

If you do want to include dairy (or alternatives) within your diet, have a look at the below tips. There may be a healthier way for you to consider trying.

Check the fat and sugar content

The total fat content of dairy products can vary a lot. The nutrition information on the label will tell you how much fat, salt and sugar is in the product. See our advice on how to read food labels.

Go for lower fat and lower sugar products where possible. For example, why not try 1% fat milk? This contains about half the fat of semi-skimmed milk or lower sugar yoghurts.

You could also have a smaller amount of the full-fat varieties and have them less often.

When buying dairy alternatives, go for unsweetened, calcium-fortified versions.


Cheese can be high in saturated fat and salt. So it's important to keep track of how much and what types of cheese you're eating.

If you're going to eat cheese, try to eat reduced-fat hard cheeses, cottage cheese, or quark.


Cream has high amounts of fats. You could try eating it in smaller amounts and less often or opt for reduced-fat sour cream or crème fraiche.

Low-fat yoghurt can also be a suitable replacement for some dishes.


Yoghurts, particularly flavoured ones, can have added sugars. It's best to read the labels to check they're not high in added sugar or opt for reduced-fat options.

Check the sugars and fats at the time you buy. You may find that while one might be low (such as fat), the other might be high (sugar). See our advice on how to read food labels.

Tips to eat less fats, sugar and salt

Sugars and salt are not needed as part of a healthy diet. You should eat these in moderation. 

You do need to eat certain types of fats as part of a healthy diet. Learn more about these types of fats at What is healthy eating: the Eatwell Guide..  

Think about how you get your energy

Food and drinks high in fat and sugar contain lots of energy. Try to have these less often and in smaller amounts. The best option is to choose sugar-free versions of popular drinks.

It also may help to think about why you feel you need these types of foods.

Is it because you're feeling sluggish and tired? You may need to eat foods with more vitamins and minerals and 'slow-release' energy foods such as wholegrains. 

Look at the labels

Checking the labels on food products can help you avoid foods which are high in fat, salt and sugar. Learn how to read these labels to make healthier food choices.

Swap to healthier choices

We have put together some ideas for sensible food swaps that you may wish to think about. Swap out foods high in fat, sugar and salt.

More about sugars

There are lots of different names for added sugar on ingredients labels. These include sucrose, glucose, fructose, honey, corn syrup, etc.  

Sugar can come from natural sources such as fruits, vegetables, milk and honey. You digest natural sources of sugar more slowly, helping you feel fuller for longer.  

Refined or added sugar is put into food and drinks for a sweeter taste and is the type of sugar you should be cutting down on. 

The NHS Eatwell Guide has information for reducing sugar in your diet

More about salt

About three-quarters of the salt you eat is already in the food when you buy it. This includes foods such as breakfast cereals, soups, breads and sauces.  

Try and cook with less salt. You could try adding black pepper, or fresh herbs and spices as a seasoning instead.

Try to avoid adding salt to your food before you taste it. If you're experimenting using other seasonings you may not even need salt. 

The NHS Eatwell Guide has information for reducing salt in your diet.

More about fats

Generally there are two main types of fats: saturated and unsaturated. You should reduce your overall fat intake and specifically, your saturated fat intake.

The NHS Eatwell Guide also has information for reducing saturated fat in your diet.

What's next

Now see our Tips for healthy eating to help you make healthier choices.