Understanding Food Groups

Understand the balance between food groups

Food Group One - Bread, Cereals and Potatoes

This group includes main sources of carbohydrates which are an excellent source of energy, fibre, vitamins and minerals. These foods are relatively low in calories and fill you up more than other foods.
• Gluten free pasta
• Rice - ideally choose Basmati.
• Potatoes
• Bread - choose wholemeal/multigrain/rye
• Breakfast cereals - not sugar coated
• Oats – jumbo oats are best as they are less processed
• Rice noodles
• Beans and lentils

Food Group Two - Fruit and Vegetables

This food group contain vitamins, minerals and fibre. They also contain antioxidants that are thought to protect against cancer and heart disease.
• Fresh fruit and vegetables
• Cooked, frozen or canned fruit and vegetables
• Fruit juice (maximum serving 125ml)
• Salads - Aim to fill up on vegetables at meal times as they very beneficial to health.  

Consume no more than two items of fruit each day and avoid fruit tinned in syrup as it is so high in sugar.  Select fruit in natural juice instead.

Aim to eat 5 portions a day - 3 from vegetables, 2 from fruit
• 1 portion is - 1 piece of fruit (apple, orange, 6-8 grapes)
• 2 tbs of vegetables
• 1 small salad
• 80g in weight

Don't forget, potatoes do not count towards your '5 a day'.

Click here for further ideas as to what counts towards your '5 a day' and portion sizes.

Food Group Three - Milk and Dairy Products - plant-based

This group is an important source of calcium and will help protect you against osteoporosis (brittle bones)
• Milk – dairy free enriched with calcium
• Cheese - plant-based
• Yoghurt - plant-based
A good target is to have the equivalent of 3/4 pint of milk each day

Full fat plant-based milk, cheese and yoghurt contain high levels of calories. Choose lower fat versions whenever you can. Changing to lower fat alternatives can significantly reduce your calorie intake.  

Food Group Four - Protein

• Choose plant-based proteins such as Quorn, Soya, Tofu, Seitan, Tempeh, Teff
• Avoiding creamy sauces, go for tomato based sauces
• Grilling rather than frying
• Avoid high fat processed protein products such as sausage rolls, pies, and fast-food

Food Group Five - Foods High in Fat and Sugars

Foods high in fat -  cooking oils, mayonnaise, coconut cream, chocolate, crisps, biscuits, pastries, cakes, puddings, ice cream etc.
• Foods high in sugar - Fizzy drinks, sweets, jam, cake, biscuits, pastries, ice cream etc.
This food group should make up less than 10% of your daily food intake. Avoid this group where possible or look out for low fat/low sugar alternatives. Be aware that although a food might be low in fat, and labelled as such, it could be packed with sugar and unnecessary calories.

A healthy well balanced diet contains:

• Plenty of cereals, potatoes, rice, pasta, fruit and vegetables
• Moderate amounts of protein
• Sufficient low fat, calcium rich, products (equivalent to 450ml of plant-based calcium enriched milk each day)
• Only small amounts of foods that contain high sugar or fat