Do you have a balanced diet? Millions don’t know what they should be eating, according to Food Advisory Board

Web Team | 14th November 2019

Millions admit they don’t have a balanced diet – because they haven’t got a clue about portion sizes, food groups or nutritional information on food labels.


A study found half have ‘no idea’ how much protein, fat, carbohydrates, sugar, dairy and fruit and veg they are supposed to eat.


And around 49 per cent are left scratching their heads when it comes to the correct portion sizes.


As a consequence, a staggering nine in 10 say their diet probably lacks balance.


It also emerged one third of adults choose not to eat fruit in a typical week and 46 per cent have no vegetables at all over the same period.


To help baffled Brits better understand food and nutrition, a team of nutritionists, diet and health professionals, researchers and agricultural experts have joined forces to form the Food Advisory Board.


Speaking on behalf of the Food Advisory Board, which carried out the study, nutritionist Dr Emma Derbyshire, said: “People are being continuously bombarded with nutritional and dietary information.


Do you have a balanced diet? Millions don’t know what they should be eating, according to Food Advisory Board

Photographer: Vegan Liftz


“This is leaving them confused as to what they should and shouldn’t eat, and ill-informed about the impact dietary restrictions, or fad diets, can have on their health.


“To ensure you get the key minerals and nutrients needed for maintaining good health, it is recommended you eat a healthy, balanced diet.


“This should contain at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day, as well as starchy carbohydrates, choosing higher fibre or wholegrain varieties and potatoes in their skins.


“It should also include dairy products, such as milk or yogurt, protein, such as lean red meat, beans, pulses, fish, eggs, and small amounts of unsaturated oils or spreads, like rapeseed or olive oil.


“There is no need to cut out food groups to be healthy.”


The study also found that instead of the recommended five portions of fruit and veg a day, adults are favouring foods which are high in saturated fat and sugar, with the average adult eating sugary foods four times a week and foods high in saturated fats three times a week.


This is despite advice showing saturated fat shouldn’t exceed 11 per cent of the daily calorie intake, and sugar should be just five per cent of total energy.


But many people are also lovers of dairy, consuming products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt 29 times each week – great sources of protein which is an essential nutrient to support growth in muscle mass and maintenance of normal bones, as well as calcium, a vital mineral in helping to maintain normal bones and teeth.


According to the study, 96 per cent of adults are also eating potatoes every week – despite the low carb diet topping a list of food schemes which have been trialled at some point.


However, despite the current interest in vegan and vegetarian diets, the majority admitted have no intention of giving up meat, with experts advising there is no need to cut out this food group from a diet.


Researchers also found that only a fifth cook their meals from scratch, and even then, only do so twice a week or less, blaming the length of time it takes to prepare.


The Food Advisory Board is aiming to help support more consistent nutrition messaging and to debunk common food myths and provide a balanced and honest approach to dietary advice.


Dr Derbyshire, added: “Try cooking from scratch more often, and in bulk if you can.


“Any surplus food can then be divvied up and frozen, or the leftovers can be eaten one of the following days as a lovely lunch, which will save time on busy days in the future.


“It helps make it easier to get important nutrients that can help support good health if you use a mix of delicious ingredients, so think variety.


“Slow cooking dishes like stews, soups and curries with plenty of veg and pulses is a great way to cook over the winter months.


“You can add tender pieces of lean meat such as pork, beef or lamb and serve with wholegrain starchy carbs or potatoes with skins.”