jamie oliver eating vegetables

We all know that balance is absolutely key – but what does it really mean? This article exists to make that super-clear, because if you can get your balanced plate right and keep your portion control in check – which I’ve done for you with all the Everyday Super Food recipes – you can be confident that you’re giving yourself a really great start on the path to good health.

One of the most useful things you can remember is that you don’t have to be spot-on every day – just try to get your balance right across the week. Mix up your choices within the chapters to ensure you’re having a varied diet and a wide range of nutrients, and you’ll be getting everything you need. As a general guide for main meals, if you eat meat and fish you’re looking at at least two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily (such as salmon, trout or mackerel), then splitting the rest of the week’s main meals between brilliant meat-free plant-based meals, some poultry and a little red meat. An all-vegetarian diet can be perfectly healthy too.

What is the balanced plate?

Bear with me on this one – it’s going to get a little technical – but it’s important to register the facts up front about how to approach putting a meal together. Just look at the table below and you’ll get the gist – it’s easy really.

Vegetables and fruit One-third of your plate
Starchy carbohydrates(bread, rice, potatoes, pasta) One-third of your plate
Protein(meat, fish, eggs, beans, other non-dairy sources) Around one-sixth of your plate
Dairy foods and milk Around one-sixth of your plate
Fat/sugar-high foods Try to only eat a small amount of food high in fat and/or sugar

How does that work in Everyday Super Food?

Working closely with my lovely nutrition team and following UK guidelines, I’ve structured all the recipes in the new book in a really clear and easy-to-follow way:

  • All the breakfast recipes are less than 400 calories per portion and contain less than 4g of saturated fat and less than 1.5g of salt
  • All the lunches and dinners are less than 600 calories per portion and contain less than 6g of saturated fat and less than 1.5g of salt – so all of these recipes are interchangeable

I’ve also included snacks of up to 100 calories, giving you the freedom to enjoy a few tasty energy-boosting snacks a day, with some calories left for drinks.

What does that mean in real life?

In general, the average woman needs about 2,000 calories a day, while the average man can have about 2,500. I’m sure you’re aware that these figures are just a guide, and what we eat always needs to be considered in relation to factors like age, build, lifestyle and activity levels. The good news is that all food and drinks can be eaten and drunk in moderation as part of a healthy, balanced diet, so we don’t have to completely give up anything that we really enjoy, unless we’re advised to do so by a doctor or dietitian.

My grandad’s philosophy on life was simple – everything in moderation and a little bit of what you like, and that still stands very true today. Even nutritionists eat cake!

Brilliant beautiful breakfast

Here’s one super-easy thing that I want you to take from this book: eat breakfast! Simple as that. This mighty meal is often overlooked, but it’s so important in setting you up for the day. Not only will it fill you up and help prevent you snacking on foods high in fat/sugar, it can kick you off with a boost of micronutrients, such as iron, fibre, the B vitamins and vitamin D. It’s been shown that when you miss breakfast you’re unlikely to make up on those missed nutrients throughout the rest of the day, so get into good habits and build it into your daily routine from the outset.

Celebrating H2O

Drinking water is absolutely essential. Although it’s not – for obvious reasons – part of the balanced plate, it is totally integral to a balanced diet. It keeps us hydrated and alert and keeps our bodies functioning properly. Often when we think we’re hungry we’re actually dehydrated, so drinking plenty of water can also help prevent us over-eating! Like anything, our requirements vary depending on factors such as age, gender, build, lifestyle and activity levels, as well as things like humidity and the temperature around us. As a general rule, women should aim for at least 1.6 litres per day, while men need at least 2 litres. Embrace it, celebrate it, and enjoy humble H2O every day. 


Everyday Super Food by Jamie Oliver is published by Penguin Random House ⓒ Jamie Oliver Enterprises Limited (2015 Everyday Super Food) Photographer: Jamie Oliver

About the author

Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver is a world-renowned chef and food campaigner.

Jamie Oliver