Understanding the principles of a healthy, balanced diet can help you find brilliantly tasty dishes that are good for you too.

If you know how to spot healthy recipes, balance your diet and keep portion control in check, you’re giving yourself and your family a really great start on the path to good health.

There are 5 food groups that make up a balanced diet: fruit & veg; starchy carbs; protein; dairy, and healthy fats. You don’t have to include all of the food groups in every meal – just try to get your balance right across the day or week.

Recipe tips

  • Includes at least 1 portion of fruit or veg
  • Includes at least 2 portions of either starchy carbs, protein or dairy
  • Check the nutrition, and go for meals that contain no more than 30% of your reference intake for saturated fat, sugar and salt per portion
  • Don’t super-size – make sure you’re eating the right portion size

MORE: WHAT IS A PORTION?

Key to a balanced diet:

  • Eat the rainbow. Aim for at least 5 portions of different fruit and veg every day
  • Use starchy carbs as the base for your meals – potatoes, bread, rice, pasta – choosing wholegrain versions whenever possible, and keeping an eye on portion size
  • Include beans, pulses, fish, eggs and some meat, as these are a good source of protein
  • Include dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soy drinks) in your diet, choosing lower-fat and lower-sugar options.
  • Choose healthy, unsaturated fats (such as olive or rapeseed oil), and keep them to a minimum
  • Drink up! Aim for 6 to 8 glasses a day. As well as water, this can include unsweetened tea, coffee and lower-fat milk

If you eat meat and fish, as a general guide, aim to eat at least 2 portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily (such as salmon, trout or mackerel). Split the rest of the week’s main meals between brilliant meat-free plant-based meals, poultry, and a little red meat. An all-vegetarian diet can be perfectly healthy, too.

3 BALANCED, HEALTHY RECIPES

SESAME SEARED SALMON

sesame seared salmon with avocado

As well as this delicious dish giving us 3 of our 5-a-day, salmon is high in vitamin D, which our bodies need for absorbing calcium, helping to keep our bones and teeth healthy.

SMOKY VEGGIE FEIJOADA

Vegetarian chilli recipe

Super protein-packed black beans are a great base to this veggie version of the classic Brazilian dish and, thanks to all the veg, we get four of your 5-a-day and loads of fibre, too! Fibre helps us keep our digestive system happy and stay regular.

SPINACH PICI PASTA

vegetarian pasta recipe

Vibrant homemade pasta that’s super-fun to make and packed with nutritious spinach. Spinach is high in folic acid, which we need to produce red blood cells and maintain a strong immune system.

For more healthy ideas, check out our collection of balanced breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes here.