I am eagerly awaiting the revised eat well plate which is due out today or very soon according to some Twitter feeds.
So before it arrives, I am reflecting on the current one .
According the NHS, “The eatwell plate highlights the different types of food that make up our diet, and shows the proportions we should eat them in to have a healthy, balanced diet”.
The eatwell plate, based on the 5 food groups, aims to make the concept of a balanced diet easier by referring to a dinner plate and dividing it in the sections of food groups we should eat for better health.
Choosing a variety of foods from within the 4 main food groups will add to the range of nutrients consumed. This includes:
- plenty of fruit and vegetables
- plenty of bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods
- some milk and dairy foods
- some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non dairy sources of protein
It is a visual, pictorial guide which aims to make the concept of a balanced diet easier by referring to a dinner plate. It does not apply to children under two or pregnant women who have very distinct dietary requirements.
In 2010, the eatwell plate won a plain English award, awarded by the Plain English Campaign but in recent years it has come under scrutiny for being outdated and irrelevant for the lifestyle of the current population.
In its defense, using visual images to explain the concept of healthy eating means that regardless of the language you speak, you can use the images to help understanding.
So why does the eat well plate need to be revised? Below are some discussion points I will use in my lessons over the next few days to generate a discussion of the validity of the eatwell plate with my pupils.
- The ones size fits all approach may not be suitable for all people.
- It is designed for the general population whether a person is overweight or a healthy weight.
- People with wheat or gluten allergies or diary intolerance may have to cut out a whole section of the eatwell plate. Likewise vegetarians and vegans need to follow a specially designed eatwell plate as they may remove sections such as the meat, fish and alternatives and diary groups.
- All fruits and vegetables recommended by the eat well plate are not equal in terms of the energy or nutrients they provide.
- It does not refer to the consumption of alcohol or sugary drinks which are a common and main component of the British diet.
- If you have special dietary requirements you cannot rely on the eatwell plate, you need to speak to a registered dietitian.
- It may be adding to dietary related problems such as obesity and diabetes by encouraging people to eat a large amount of starchy food, some of which are illustrated on the plate as white processed cereal and bread.More slow release energy examples are needed.
- It is not suitable for people who are blind or have difficulties with vision.
- It can to extent forget about food poverty and health inequalities. Can everyone afford to eat meat, fish or five portions of fruit and vegetables a day? The increase in food banks and projects such as the and real junk food projects in recent years might beg to differ.
- It does not account for people who may have psychological difficulties with consuming certain food groups.
- It does not move with updated nutritional research findings – it and the previous balance of good health have been used for 20 years.
I will obviously discuss these points further when the revised edition arrives but until then watch this space!