How to eat well

Eating a wide variety of nourishing foods provides the energy and nutrients you need to stay healthy.

Plan and prepare

Use these tips to introduce healthy eating habits:

  • Plan your meals in advance - this will help you to introduce variety and eat more nutritious foods. You'll also save money and rely less on convenience and processed foods.
  • Prepare your meals using mostly fresh ingredients and choose foods like fruits, salads and vegetables for snacks.
  • Use healthier cooking methods like grilling and steaming instead of frying or roasting with oil or fat.
  • Use the food pyramid as a guide for serving sizes.
  • Enjoy your meals sitting at a table.
  • Try to avoid eating in front of TV or computer screens.

Make healthy choices

Use the food pyramid as a guide for the types and amounts of food you need each day.

Food pyramid

Base your meals on plenty of vegetables, salads and fruits – up to half your plate or bowl at every meal. Choose a variety of colours.

Read a guide with recommendations on eating vegetables, salad and fruit (PDF, 2.29 MB, 1 page)

Choose wholemeal and wholegrain breads, cereals, pasta and brown rice. Be aware of the calorie difference – some types contain more calories than others.

Read a guide with recommendations on eating wholemeal cereals and bread, potatoes, pasta and rice (PDF, 2.14 MB, 1 page)

Choose low-fat milk, yoghurt or cheese. Choose milk and yoghurt more often than cheese. Read more about that here:

Read a guide with recommendations on eating milk, yoghurt and cheese (PDF, 1.88 MB, 1 page)

Include a small amount of poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, beans or meat at 2 meals. Choose fish up to twice a week – oily fish is best.

Read a guide with recommendations on eating meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts (PDF, 1.89 MB, 1 page)

Limit chips and takeaway food as much as possible. Most are very high in fat, salt and calories.

Don’t eat the following foods and drinks every day:

  • sugary drinks
  • biscuits, cakes, desserts, chocolate, sweets
  • processed salty meats like sausages, bacon and ham.
  • salty snacks like crisps

Read a guide with recommendations on eating food and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt (PDF, 1.85 MB, 1 page)

How much food you need

Use the Food Pyramid as a guide for the types and amounts of food you need each day. The amount of food you need depends on your age and activity levels.

Learn about recommended serving sizes with our serving size guide (PDF, 828 KB, 1 page)

What a healthy day looks like

To get an idea of what eating well looks like when you use the food pyramid as a guide, see how these people have used it.

Jakub, an active boy aged 5 who loves being outdoors playing with his friends (PDF, 781 KB, 1 page)

Niamh, a very active 10-year-old, plays GAA and loves to dance (PDF, 955 KB, 1 page)

Matthew, a 21-year-old student living away from home (PDF, 1.15 MB, 1 page)

Siobhán, a 30-year-old who is breastfeeding her 6-month-old baby (PDF, 916 KB, 1 page)

Michael, a 52-year-old office worker who is overweight (PDF, 947 KB, 1 page)

Tom, who is 67 and has recently retired (PDF, 1.02 MB, 1 page)

Mary an active woman aged 70 who looks after her 2 young grandchildren (PDF, 915 KB, 1 page)

Healthy food for life

6-week nutrition and basic cooking courses are run in lots of areas around the country. Find out about nutrition and cookery classes in your community.

Read the recipe book '101 Square Meals' for some simple but tasty meal ideas using everyday ingredients (PDF, 12 MB, 151 pages).

Page last reviewed: 30 January 2019
Next review due: 30 January 2022