Eating a balanced diet

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health, and can help you feel your best. 

This means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions, and consuming the right amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. 

This page covers healthy eating advice for the general population. 

People with special dietary needs or a medical condition should ask their doctor or a registered dietitian for advice. 

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Food Groups


Eat less saturated fat, sugar and salt

Too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which increases your risk of developing heart disease

Regularly consuming foods and drinks high in sugar increases your risk of obesity and tooth decay

Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure, which increases your risk of getting heart disease or having a stroke. 

Milk and dairy foods (and alternatives) 

Milk and dairy foods, such as cheese and yoghurt, are good sources of protein. They also contain calcium, which helps keep your bones healthy. 

Go for lower fat and lower sugar products where possible. 

Choose semi-skimmed, 1% fat or skimmed milk, as well as lower fat hard cheeses or cottage cheese, and lower fat, lower sugar yoghurt. 

Dairy alternatives, such as soya drinks, are also included in this food group. When buying alternatives, choose unsweetened, calcium-fortified versions. 

Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins 

These foods are all good sources of protein, which is essential for the body to grow and repair itself. They're also good sources of a range of vitamins and minerals. 

Meat is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc and B vitamins. It's also one of the main sources of vitamin B12. 

Choose lean cuts of meat and skinless poultry whenever possible to cut down on fat. Always cook meat thoroughly. 

Try to eat less red and processed meat like bacon, ham and sausages. 

Fruit and vegetables:

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Fruit and vegetables are a good source of vitamins and minerals and fibre, and should make up just over a third of the food you eat each day. 

It's recommended that you eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. They can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced. 

There's evidence that people who eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers. 

Starchy foods in your diet 

Starchy foods should make up just over a third of everything you eat. This means your meals should be based on these foods. 

Choose wholegrain or wholemeal varieties of starchy foods, such as brown rice, wholewheat pasta, and brown, wholemeal or higher fibre white bread. 

They contain more fibre, and usually more vitamins and minerals, than white varieties. 

Potatoes with the skins on are a great source of fibre and vitamins. For example, when having boiled potatoes or a jacket potato, eat the skin too. 

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