Finally. A moment that we’ve been waiting for in the nutrition world. The EatWell Plate has been updated. Remember this is aimed at the general population… so it is not for those on special diets for medical reasons but is a nationwide healthy eating message. It gives the public sensible, evidence based information on what should be in their diet. Very timely in light of the rise of health bloggers and other unqualified “nutrition experts” who are suggesting we reduce carbs, sugar, gluten, meat etc…
Here is the old version:
And the new version:
5 top differences:
After the SACN report the new plate has an emphasis on sugar reduction. So the high sugar foods have been removed from the model and are now emphasised as foods to eat less of. What I like is the fact these foods are very much still included. So going completely sugarfree is definitely not advocated. We can all enjoy sugary foods in moderation 🙂
Quite a change for fat with the change in the purple segment size and now a focus on unsaturated fats. It would have been nice to have a larger range of these fats, however they often cross over into other food groups so it can be a little confusing. Other foods include: avocado (also a veggie), nuts, seeds and oily fish (also a protein), olives (also a veggie), olive oil.
Hooray for more of a focus on fibre! With all the sugar madness that has been flying around, fibre has had to take a backseat. It is good to see the wholegrain message being highlighted. Recommendations are that we eat 30g of fibre a day, which is a lot. Eat wholegrain foods at meals, snack on fruit and veg and include 2 high fibre snacks (homemade flapjack with seeds in would be one of mine) and you will just make it.
The segment sizes have very much been revisited. Linear modelling (which I am not an expert on) was used to look at the guidelines and compare this to what the population currently eats. We have this data from the NDNS – regular dietary surveys that are carried out on the UK population. So what we have is an achievable version of the guidance, rather than the “perfect diet”. I like this, as a dietitian it is how I work, translating the science and guidelines into achievable bite size pieces of advice.
The inclusion of a drink is a positive step towards helping education people on sensible choices of fluids to drink. It was also a change to make a change to the advice on fruit juice and smoothies, so you can see that now a smoothie will only count as 1 portion of your fruit and veggies a day. That’s 1 portion total, so if you drink 5 smoothies a day that is still only 1 portion of fruit and veggies…..and a lot of sugar. This has the aim of helping us reduce sugar intakes in light of dental health.
Other changes are there being less red meat and processed meat on the plate. So the 70g of red meat per day guidance has been integrated in. Drawn foods have been used after focus groups consulted on the images. I’m not so much a fan of this. To me the model looks very simplistic but perhaps that is what we need? A return to basics and simple, sensible advice?
What are your thoughts?
Do you like the new model?
Does it help you think about how to eat healthily?
I’m so rock and roll that at the end of January I sat on my laptop and attended a Fbre Symptosium. Yes really. You can see why I don’t have many friends 😉
One thing that struck me was how tricky it can be to achieve the fibre recommendations unless you eat uber healthily and know how to cook.
The current UK fibre recommendations are for us to eat 18g/dauy NSP, these were set in 1991. That’s light years ago in the world of science. Interestingly studies show that in the UK we didn’t ever meet these and averaged 14g/d. Whoops.
These fibre recommendations are now being looked at. The 2014 draft SACN recommendations are we aim for 30g/d AOAC fibre. So that is measured in a different way but either way it is an increase.
Why? Diets rich in fibre such as cereal and whole grains as associated with a reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease., type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer. Benefits are also seen for gastrointestinal health. Sounds like a no-brainer doesn’t it.
So how much is 30g/day?
5 portions of fruit and vegetables
3 servings of wholegrain starchy foods (breakfast cereal, wholemeal bread and wholemeal pasta for example)
2 high fibre snacks
It is achievable if you eat a very healthy, cooked from scratch, unprocessed style of diet. Potentially needing large changes for lots of people in the UK as I meet many who do not know how to cook. Potentially able to save lives and make big improvements to health. It’s a challenge.