In this article, you will find information for the general public who are interested in knowing about a healthy, balanced diet.

We will cover:

The short video below summarises and covers the key messages from the Eatwell Guide: 

What is a healthy diet?

A good diet is important for our health and can help us feel our best - but what is a good diet? Apart from breastmilk as a food for babies, no single food contains all the essential nutrients the body needs to stay healthy and work properly. For this reason, our diets should contain a variety of different foods, to help us get the wide range of nutrients that our bodies need. This is illustrated by the UK’s healthy eating model – the Eatwell Guide.


How much food do I need to have a healthy diet?

A healthy diet should provide us with the right amount of energy (calories or kilojoules), from foods and drinks to maintain energy balance. Energy balance is where the calories taken in from the diet are equal to the calories used by the body. We need these calories to carry out everyday tasks such as walking and moving about, but also for all the functions of the body we may not even think about. Processes like breathing, pumping blood around the body and thinking also require calories.

So, foods and drinks provide the calories we need to go about our daily lives, but consuming more calories than we need over a period of time will cause weight gain. This is because, any extra calories we consume but we don’t use, will just be stored as fat.

Over 50% of adults in the UK are overweight or obese. There is also a huge concern about childhood obesity, where 1 in 3 children aged 4-5, and 1 in 5 children aged 10-11, are overweight or obese. Being overweight as a child increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers in adulthood. So, maintaining a healthy weight is really important for health.

How much energy you need from foods and drinks depends on many different things, such as how active you are. But, on average:


Eating only as many calories as you need will help to maintain a healthy weight. However, the foods and drinks you choose need to be the right ones, and in the right proportions to stay healthy. Having this balance in your diet can be achieved by following the Eatwell Guide.

To learn some more about energy, click here.

If you would like to learn about food labels in relation to the Eatwell Guide and how to use them, click here.

Next page: the Eatwell Guide - what, who, how and when?

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