Eating well

What you eat, and how much, is important for your health.

Eating well means having a wide variety of different foods in the right amounts.

The key recommendations for eating well are to:

  • aim for at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day
  • choose more wholegrain or higher fibre options
  • swap red and processed meats for chicken, fish, beans and pulses
  • have foods high in fat, salt and sugar occasionally

Find out more about healthy eating recommendations on the NHS website.

This page covers healthy eating advice for the general public. For those with special dietary requirements, medical needs, eating disorders or those who require specialised nutrition advice please seek guidance from a healthcare professional.

How we can help

If you're struggling to achieve a healthy weight, Public Health Northamptonshire will fund a 12-week course to support you to reach your weight-loss goals.

Find out how we can help with weight management.

9 top tips to help you eat well

1. Variety is key!

Eating a wide variety of foods means you are more likely to be consuming all the essential nutrients your body needs to function at its best.

Try to include different foods from each food group in your meals and snacks. This includes fruits and vegetables, starchy carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats. Can you eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables over a week?

The Eatwell Guide on the NHS website explains more about each food group.

2. Check the labels

Nutrition labels can help you choose between products and keep a check on the amount of foods you're eating that are high in fat, salt and added sugars - check the label.

3. Try to cook more meals at home

We all like to eat out sometimes but by preparing more foods at home you can control what goes into your meals and its often much cheaper.

Try making your favourite meals at home. Many key ingredients such as pasta, noodles, vegetables and sauces can be stored in the cupboards or freezer.

4. Use vegetables and pulses to bulk out meals

A good way of making meals go further is to use vegetables or pulses to bulk out meals such as adding mushrooms, beans or lentils to chilli or spaghetti bolognaise. These don't always have to be fresh tinned and frozen are great options too!

5. Love leftovers!

Leftovers are a great way to have ready prepared meals for another day.

You can store them in the fridge overnight and have them for lunch the next day or freeze until you need a quick prep dinner after a busy day. Using leftovers cannot only save time but money and food waste too.

6. Try to eat regular meals

Eating regular meals helps to maintain your energy levels throughout that day. Planning lunches and preparing snacks is a good way to make sure that when hunger strikes you have something ready to hand. MIND have some great tips on food and mood.

7. Stay hydrated

Drinking little and often can help to keep you hydrated throughout the day. Water is the best option but milk, tea, coffee, fresh juice, smoothies and sugar free drinks all count too.

Just be aware of the caffeine content in tea and coffee. Also, when drinking smoothies or fresh juices it's recommended to keep serving sizes to 150ml as they can be high in sugar.

8. Try simple food swaps

Eating well can start with small changes - why not try swapping sugar on your breakfast for dried fruit, or swapping white bread for wholemeal. Find food swaps for kids.

9. Check the healthy eating advice you follow is from a reputable source

There is a lot of information available on social media and the internet, and promotion of many 'fad' diets that are not based on scientifically correct information.

Reputable sources include the NHS (Better Health, Healthier Families) and health professionals such as GPs, Registered Dieticians and Nutritionists and using these will ensure the advice you receive is safe, accurate and evidence based.

Concerned about your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes?

You can check out your risk and access a range of support services on the NHS website:

Better health - NHS
Live well - NHS

The National Diabetes Prevention Programme operates in Northamptonshire, through Living Well Taking Control. Your GP can refer you to the programme if they feel it is appropriate for you, or you can check your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes using their Know Your Risk Tool and follow their next steps based on your results.

Other support available


Change4life food scanner app (Apple store)

Useful websites

Healthy recipe ideas - NHS
Healthy meal ideas for kids and families - NHS
How have portion sizes changed over the years? - BMJ

Useful videos

How the food you eat affects your brain - YouTube
How to spot a fad diet - YouTube

Last updated 27 February 2023