Eating tips

Starchy foods - choose 6 or more a day

Breads, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods. One serving is:

  • 1 small bowl of breakfast cereal
  • 1 slice of bread
  • 3 dessertspoons/2 tablespoons of cooked pasta/rice, or
  • 1 medium potato (boiled or baked is healthiest)

Fruit and vegetables - choose 5 or more a day

One portion of fruit is:

  • 1 apple
  • 1 banana
  • 1 pear
  • 1 orange
  • 2 plums
  • ½ grapefruit or avocado
  • 1 large slice of pineapple or melon
  • 1 handful of grapes or berries
  • 3 heaped tablespoons of fruit salad or stewed fruit
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of dried fruit
  • 1 small glass (150ml) of fruit juice*

(*fruit juice only counts as 1 portion each day)

One portion of vegetables is:

  • 1 dessert bowl of salad
  • 1 small bowl of homemade vegetable soup
  • 3 heaped tablespoons of vegetables (raw, cooked, frozen or tinned)
  • 3 heaped tablespoons of beans and pulses*

(*beans and pulses only count as 1 portion each day)

Dairy - choose 3 a day

One serving is:

  • a small glass of milk (200 ml)
  • one 125g pot of yoghurt
  • 1 oz (30g) of cheese (a matchbox-sized piece)

Use lower-fat dairy products to get to your healthy weight (but remember that low-fat milk is not suitable for children under two years, and skimmed milk should not be given to children under five years)

Proteins - choose 2 a day

One portion is:

  • 2oz(60g) cooked lean meat or poultry (e.g. – half of one small chicken breast; edible portion of one small lamb chop)
  • 3-4 oz(90-120g) cooked fish (e.g. – one small salmon steak; one small fillet of plaice)
  • 2 eggs (not more than 7 per week)
  • 3 tablespoons cooked pea/beans
  • 1oz(30g) nuts

Fats, sugars and alcohol

Fats and oils

Use only about 1oz (30g) low-fat spread/low-fat butter (i.e. enough to spread thickly on two slices of bread) or a half oz (15g) ordinary margarine or butter (enough to spread thickly on one slice of bread) each day. Use oils sparingly in cooking or dressings.

Sugars, confectionary, cakes, biscuits and high-fat snack foods

These foods should only make up a small part of what you eat. There is no need to cut them out completely but do keep them as occasional treats (but not as rewards). Focus on the healthier foods that will help to keep your weight healthy. Only eat small amounts of high-fat or high-sugar snacks, and not too often. Choose lower-fat and sugar-free alternatives where you can.

Alcohol

A small amount of alcohol can be good for you but too much is bad for your health and your weight. Always drink alcohol in moderation – preferably with meals – and make sure you have some alcohol-free days every week.

The guidelines for alcohol are 14 standard units a week for women and 21 standard units a week for men. One standard unit is:

  • half a pint of beer, cider, stout or ale
  • 1 small glass of wine (approx 100mls – you should get 7 glasses from a bottle)
  • 1 measure of spirits (vodka, whiskey, gin, etc.)

General tips


  • Use a smaller plate. Most people use a very large dinner plate. This is usually far too much food. Unless you are doing two or three hours exercise every day, you don’t need a big plate. Use a salad or breakfast plate instead (not a side plate!). Remember that this applies to men, women and children.
  • Make sure at least one third of the food on your dinner plate is made up of vegetables or salad.
  • Don’t fill your plate with rice or pasta. Pasta or rice should only make up about one third of the food on your plate. Remember, one serving of pasta is only three dessertspoons/2 tablespoons.
  • Eat a piece of raw fruit (like an apple, orange or kiwi) before lunch and dinner. This will help you to eat a little less, as well as helping you reach your 5-a-day target for fruit and vegetables. If you have a small bowl of fat-free vegetable soup or some raw vegetable pieces before meals, you will achieve the same thing.
  • Never fill your stomach when you eat; always leave some room. You will stop feeling hungry long before you feel full. ‘Filling’ your stomach means you are eating too much. Always have some room in your stomach at the end of a meal. If you are forcing food in, then you are eating too much.
  • Choose snacks that are packaged in individual portions to stop you from over-eating.
  • Go for ‘small’ food portions at the cinema or in a fast-food restaurant. These are normally still generous portions.