A Healthy Diet Supporting Information

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1 A Healthy Diet Supporting Information 1

2 What is a Healthy Diet? Childhood obesity is on the increase, so establishing good eating patterns early in life is very important. A healthy diet is one that is based on the Eat Well Plate, which shows the types and proportions of foods people need to have a healthy and well balanced diet. Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and Queen s Printer for Scotland. Source: Food Standards Agency The Eat Well Plate The Eat Well Plate gives a visual representation of the overall diet for adults and children over the age of five that should come from each of the five food groups in order to provide enough of the important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, protein and fibre, without too much fat and sugar. It shows how much of what you eat 2

3 should come from each food group. It includes everything you eat during the day, including snacks. It is based on the eight guidelines for a healthy diet: 1. Enjoy your food 2. Eat a variety of different foods 3. Eat the right amount to be a healthy weight 4. Eat plenty of foods rich in starch and fibre 5. Don t eat too much fat 6. Don t eat sugary foods too often and keep all sugar containing foods and drinks to mealtimes 7. Look after the vitamin and minerals in your food 8. If you drink alcohol, keep within sensible limits Between the ages of 2 and 5, children should gradually move to eating the same foods as the rest of the family, in the proportions shown on the Eat Well plate. However, they should have full fat dairy produce. It is also important to regulate salt intake adults should have no more than 6g per day. Children should have even less. Babies need only a very small amount of salt less than 1g (0.4g sodium) a day up to 12 months. Their kidneys can't cope with larger amounts of salt. Babies who are breastfed will get the right amount of salt through breast milk. Infant formula contains a similar amount. Once a baby is eating solid foods (at six months), do not add salt to food you make for children and be careful not to give infants foods that aren't made specifically for babies, such as breakfast cereals and pasta sauces, because these can be high in salt. Eating too much salt can raise blood pressure, which triples the risk of heart disease or stroke. Food cooked using fresh ingredients is 3

4 always the best option as 70% of the salt in our diet comes hidden in processed foods. We need to base our diet on the four main food groups these are essential to achieve a balanced diet: Eat a high proportion of both fruit and vegetables and starchy/cereal foods i.e. the large sections on the plate model. Choose those without added fat or sugar Eat moderate amounts of meat, fish, diary foods and alternatives. Choose lower fat alternatives Consume fatty/sugary foods in limited amounts i.e. very small section on the plate model. Foods from this group do not contain essential nutrients For further help see: Key Characteristics of Foods within each of the 5 Food Groups Prompt Sheets The Eat Well Plate in the Classroom: Foundation Curriculum Learning Outcomes Classroom Activities and Parent Evening Suggestions Key Points: Healthy eating is not moderation in all things. We need to eat more of some food groups than others e.g. we need to increase our intake of fruit and vegetables to at least 5 portions a day. For children a portion is represented by a child size handful of the fruit or vegetables No food is bad or forbidden but fatty and sugary foods should only be eaten occasionally and in small amounts or they will displace more nourishing food from the diet e.g. snacking on 4

5 crisps and biscuits will displace fruit from the diet. Sugary foods should be limited to mealtimes to prevent damage to teeth Foods that do not fit into one food group: Some foods do not fit into one of the five groups and these include: 1. Alcohol excluded from the National Food Guide 2. Pickles, sauces, tea etc. excluded from the Guide 3. Sugar-free drinks contain no sugar/nutritional value 4. Composite dishes containing foods from more than one group e.g. Pizza bread/vegetables/dairy and meat groups Milk puddings e.g. rice/semolina diary/bread groups Burger in a bun meat/bread and vegetable groups Shepherds pie meat/bread and vegetable groups Sandwiches bread, fatty, dairy (cheese)/meat (meat, fish, egg etc.) groups Composite dishes are widespread and a common component of the diet and therefore should be discussed and examples included. Single foods are often combined to make composite dishes or meals e.g. meat, potato and vegetables, therefore encouraging a balance of foods to be consumed. Frequently Asked Questions: Why use a model based on food groups and not nutrients? People choose foods not nutrients. If appropriate, it may be helpful to explain the main nutrients in each food group and their function in the body e.g. milk and dairy foods are rich in calcium and good for strong bones and teeth. See: Key Characteristics of Foods within each of the 5 Food Groups Prompt Sheets 5

6 However, food based education that includes tasting, cooking and growing is the most effective for increasing variety in the diet and balanced eating. See: The Eat Well Plate in the Classroom: Foundation Curriculum Learning Outcomes Why are potatoes not in the vegetable group? Potatoes contain more starch than other vegetables and form the starchy staple part of the meal. They are therefore classified in the starchy group with bread and other cereals. What is wrong with labelling foods as good and bad? No food should be labelled as bad. Fatty and sugary foods, although not encouraged, can be included in small amounts as part of a healthy balanced diet. The terms less healthy (eat less of) and more healthy (eat more of) may be more appropriate when explaining a balanced diet. What are non-milk extrinsic sugars (NME sugars)? In the past, sugars were often referred to as added sugars and natural sugars terms which many people found confusing. The Government s advisory panel COMA (Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy) defined different sugars in the diet more precisely depending on their effects on health. Non-milk extrinsic sugars (NME sugars) are those that have been extracted from a root, stem or fruit of a plant and are no longer incorporated into the cellular structure of food. NME sugars therefore include table sugar, sugar added to recipes, and sugars found in soft drinks and fruit juices. Honey is also included in this group. 6

7 It is accepted that dental decay is directly related to the frequency and amount of NME sugar consumption 1. To reduce the risk of decay, it is important to reduce the amount of time that teeth are exposed to foods high in non-milk extrinsic sugars. This includes foods such as sweets, biscuits, cakes and sugary cereals as well as soft drinks. Fresh fruit is a good choice as a snack, but fruit juice and dried fruit do contain significant amounts of non-milk extrinsic sugars so they should be consumed with meals rather than between meals 2. The other concern is that foods high in NME sugars often provide calories but few other nutrients. Children need a relatively nutrientdense diet. If a large proportion of the foods and drinks they consume are high in NME sugars, it may be difficult for under-5s to obtain all the nutrients they need each day. 1 Hinds K, Gregory J. (1995) National Diet and Nutrition Survey: Children Aged 1½ to 4½ Years. Volume 2. Report of the Dental Survey. London: HMSO 2 Moynihan, P. (2003) Fruit juice and dried fruit healthy choices or not? Letter in the British Dental Journal; 194: 408 7

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