Balance and Variety: The Food Group Approach

Starchy foods: bread, other cereals and potatoes

For energy, B vitamins, minerals and fibre, these foods should make up about a third of the food you eat. Include at least one with each meal, including bread (especially wholemeal); breakfast cereals; pasta, rice, couscous, potatoes yam, and chapatti. 

Fruit and vegetables 

Eat a variety every day – all types count towards your 5-a-day, including fresh, frozen, canned and dried. Fruit juice is high in sugar, so only counts once a day.

One portion is approximately 80g (or 3 tablespoons) vegetables, a bowl of salad, a whole fruit (banana, apple or orange) or two small ones (plums, satsumas).

Milk and dairy foods

Two to three servings each day will provide essential calcium for healthy bones and teeth, some B and fat soluble vitamins. Choose lower fat milk, cheese and yogurts for maximum calcium, but lower saturated fat intake. 

Meat, fish and alternatives 

Two servings a day are needed to provide protein, iron and other minerals and vitamins. Choose from: lean red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, dhal, nuts, tofu and seeds. 

Fatty and sugary foods 

Cooking oils and some fat spreads contain essential fats and fat soluble vitamins (A,D and E) which we need in small amounts for good health. Use sparingly. Many foods in this group however, are high in saturated fats and sugar, such as cakes, biscuits, pastries and savoury snacks, so limit your intake and include occasionally in small amounts. 


Keep well hydrated throughout the day with at least 6-8 cups fluid every day, including water, hot drinks (including some tea/cofffee/fruit or herbal teas) and low sugar or sugar free cold drinks. If you drink alcohol, keep to the sensible daily limits of no more than 2-3 units of alcohol for women and 3-4 units for men.


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