First published: 21/06/2023 -

Last updated: 21/03/2024 -

Verified by our Editorial Panel

Eating a balanced diet

A little more balanced meal planning and a little less fast food on the go is a great way to keep healthy and save money on your weekly shop.

It’s important we all maintain a balanced diet and healthy eating, which means eating the right type and amount of food to keep our bodies fuelled and well. It’s different for everyone, depending on factors such as age, weight, gender and level of physical activity. Here’s a portion size guide for adults – and a portion planner for children.  

What can we do?

Think about the foods you usually eat and pick what works for you, your family and your lifestyle. Even small changes can make a difference to your health, wellbeing and the planet. Here are some ideas to get you started:

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Plan your meals

Think about the week ahead and plan what meals will work. To avoid buying food you don’t need, update your list to include ingredients you’re missing. Find more tips on making the most of your food at home. 

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Follow the Eatwell Guide

The NHS Eatwell Guide helps you make sure you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet. It recommends basing your meals on starchy carbohydrates, eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and making sure you have some dairy and protein, while choosing lower fat, sugar and salt options. It’s good to have a mix of protein, from meat, fish and eggs to plant-based sources such as beans and pulses. 

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Get your family involved

It can be tricky if you have children who are a little fussy about what they will and won’t eat. Why not involve them in the food planning or even cook easy meals together? Give some of these family friendly recipes a try – they’re a great way to use food that might otherwise be thrown away. 

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Try batch cooking

Cooking larger amounts of food that you can freeze for later is a great way to make sure you have healthy meals ready when you need them. Love Food Hate Waste has lots of recipe ideas for meals suitable for freezing which use up food so nothing goes to waste.

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Measure your portions

Using a food scale or measuring cups can help you better understand how to get the right amount of food. Checking food labels is also a good way to find out more about nutrition information. 

Why take Action

By consuming only what we need, we can enjoy the benefits of portion control – for our health, finances and the environment:

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Reduce food waste

When we throw away edible food, we waste the resources and energy used to make it. These release carbon emissions that trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere and contribute to climate change. This is why it’s so important to buy and eat only what we need and avoid throwing edible food away.

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Improve your overall health and well-being

A balanced diet can help us maintain a healthy weight by avoiding overeating and excess calories, which can lead to obesity and other health problems, such as diabetes. The benefits of eating the right food for our body include feeling more energised and less tired – as a healthy diet gives our body the nutrients it needs. 

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Help your mental health

Lower blood sugar levels can make you feel tired, upset or depressed. Eating the right balance of food, that releases energy slowly, can help keep sugar levels steady. Protein-rich foods contain amino acids, which your brain needs to produce neurotransmitters that help regulate your thoughts and feelings. Read Mind’s guide to food and mental health.

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Create a healthy relationship with food

Having mindful eating habits, can also help create a healthier relationship with food. It means we’re focusing on eating balanced meals and listening to our body’s needs to avoid under or overeating.


Save money

Buying less food, planning our meals, organising our shopping and using up leftovers are a few ways to reduce edible food waste and save money. Find out more about properly storing food to extend its shelf life.

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