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Published By: K.D Cameron
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Public Health England released the 2016 Eatwell Guide in March, replacing the Eatwell Plate that previously served as the official UK dietary guide. The Guide serves as a visual representation of how different foods and drinks can contribute towards a healthy balanced diet.

So what’s changed? The most obvious revision is the removal of so-called indulgence foods—crisps, ice cream, cakes and biscuits—have been moved off the plate. These foods have no place in a healthy diet. Really? What about the pleasure factor—doesn’t food that makes us happy (like chocolate) contribute to our quality of life? Relax, the government isn’t saying you can’t enjoy a little indulgence, their just cautioning us all to eat these foods less often and in small amounts. I can live with that.

Another striking change—sugary drinks haven’t just been removed from the plate, they’ve been eliminated from the guide altogether. Soft drinks are no longer welcome in the balanced diet, and we’re warned to limit consumption of fruit juices, smoothies and the like to less than 150ml per day. This is based on the fact that a glass of pure fruit juice contains as much sugar as a typical can of cola. Personally, I like this change. I’m constantly educating people who think it’s just fine to feed their kids endless juice boxes even while they forbid them from drinking soda. Yes, fruit juice does have vitamins and nutrients soft drinks do not, but they’re also loaded with sugar and should be consumed accordingly.

Many people complain that such guides take all the fun out of food. I disagree. In fact, I find that such dietary guides offer new challenges, forcing us to think differently about how we combine, prepare and consume our food. Notice that packaged, processed, ready-to-eat foods have little to no representation on the Guide. The experts are encouraging us to focus on whole, sustainable foods; to prepare those foods in sensible combinations; to engage with our food rather than simply opening a box. Because, in the words of English food writer Dione Lucas, “The preparation of good food is merely another expression of art, one of the joys of civilized living.”

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