The eatwell guide

The eatwell guide is a plate model which represents the types and amounts of foods we should be eating for a healthy balanced diet over the course of a day or a week. The portion sizes of each group indicate that we should eat more of some foods and less of others which means we can enjoy all foods as part of a healthy balanced diet.

Image of a food plate divided into food groups

The eatwell guide is divided into 5 sections

Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods

Starchy foods like bread, rice, potatoes and pasta should make up a third of the food we eat each day and should form the basis of each meal. This food group provides us with our bodies' preferential energy source but also provides other key nutrients such as B vitamins and fibre. Where possible we should try and opt for whole grain varieties of these foods.

Fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables should make up about a third of the food we eat each day. Eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables daily can help prevent a number of diet related illnesses such as heart disease and some cancers. It is important to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables as different types provide us with different nutrients. The main nutrients this food group provides are vitamins and fibre.

Dairy and alternatives

These foods provide us with a source of calcium which is needed for strong bones. It includes milk and milk products such as yoghurt, cheese and milk powder and any dairy free alternatives such as rice or Soya milk.  These foods can often be high in saturated fat so where possible opt for low fat varieties.

Meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non dairy sources of protein

Food in this group includes all meat, meat alternatives such as Quorn and tofu, fish, eggs, beans, pulses, lentils and nuts. The main nutrients supplied by this food group are protein, iron and zinc which are needed for muscle growth, healthy blood cells and immune function. We should aim to eat two portions of fish each week, one of which should be an oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, tuna (not tinned) and sardines. Eating oily fish can help lower the risk of developing heart disease.

What else do I need to know?


It is important to be aware of the amount of salt we consume daily. Three quarters of the salt we eat is found hidden in foods such as cheese, bread, bacon, pasta sauces, ready meals and soups. We should be consuming no more than 6g a day (one teaspoon) but many people consume 50% more than this. Eating a diet high in salt can lead to high blood pressure which is linked to an increased risk or heart disease and stroke.


Our body is made of up to 70% water so it is important to keep hydrated throughout the day. We should aim to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water daily and more if the weather is warmer or if we are more active. Try and avoid fizzy drinks and soft drinks which are high in sugar.

Foods and drinks high in fat and/or sugar

Eat less often and in small amounts.

For more information on the eatwell plate visit the Eatwell website.

Healthier vending

Vending machines are primarily known for supplying a wide range of crisps, confectionery products and soft drinks, but as healthier eating becomes more commonplace, many vending machines are now starting to supply a healthier range of products including healthier drinks and snacks and healthy meal based options.

Our guidance notes can be used by any establishment that uses a vending machine to provide healthier options.