This group contains starchy foods such as pasta, rice, oats, potatoes, noodles, yam, green bananas, sweet potato, millet, couscous, breads, breakfasts cereals, barley and rye.
Carbohydrates give us energy, calcium and B vitamins. Wholegrain ones give us lots of fibre to help keep the digestive system healthy. Many breakfast cereals also have extra iron. A healthy diet would include 3-5 servings of carbohydrate a day.
These portions should be spread throughout the day and eaten with every meal, including snacks.
One portion of carbohydrate is:
- One slice of bread, one roll or half a pizza.
- Six tablespoons of breakfast cereal or porridge.
- Four wholewheat crisp breads.
- Six tablespoons of pasta, rice, millet or couscous.
- Two small new potatoes.
- Two tablespoons mashed sweet potato.
2 ProteinThis group contains meat, fish and eggs as well as vegetable protein, nuts, beans, peas, lentils, dahl, Quorn and soya. These foods give us protein, iron and some other minerals and vitamins. This helps the body to grow and repair itself. They are like building blocks for the body. Meat is a good source of iron. We should eat 2-3 servings of these every day.
One portion of meat or vegetable protein:
- Two slices of cold ham, turkey and chicken.
- One medium chicken breast.
- Two sausages.
- Three bacon rashers.
- One beefburger.
- One fillet of fish or fish steak.
- One small can of tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines.
- Four fish fingers.
- One cup of cooked lentils or beans.
- Half a large can of beans, chickpeas or lentils.
- A 100g portion of Tofu or Quorn.
3 Milk and dairy products
This group contains milk, yoghurt, fromage frais, milkshakes, cheese – both hard cheese and soft cheese including soft cheese triangles. These foods contain protein and calcium and some vitamins like vitamin B12, vitamin A and vitamin D. Dairy products keep your bones and teeth healthy. The body absorbs the calcium in dairy foods easily. We should try and eat three servings of these a day.
One portion of milk and dairy products:
- One glass of milk.
- One pot of yoghurt or fromage frais.
- One matchbox size piece of cheese or two triangles.
- Half a tin of low-fat custard.
4 Fruit and vegetables
This group includes fresh as well as frozen, tinned, dried and juices of fruits and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables give you lots of vitamins and chemicals called antioxidants which keep you healthy. These can even stop you getting some cancers. They also contain fibre to keep your digestive system healthy. Because fruit and veg are low in calories and high in fibre (which keep kids feeling full) eating plenty will help control your weight It is important to eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. This way you get the whole range of all the important nutrients these foods give. You should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
One portion of fruit and vegetables:
- One apple, orange, pear or banana or similar sized fruit.
- Two smaller fruits such as plums, satsumas, kiwi fruit.
- A handful of very small fruits such as grapes, cherries or berries.
- Half to one tablespoon of dried fruits such as raisins, prunes or apricots.
- A slice of large fruit such as a piece of melon or a slice of pineapple.
- Three heaped tablespoons of raw, cooked, frozen or canned vegetables.
- A dessert bowl of salad.
5 Fats and sugarsThis group contains butter, margarine, cooking oils, cream, salad dressings, chocolate, crisps, sugary soft drinks, sweets, jam, cakes, pudding, biscuits and pastries. These foods give us a lot of energy (calories) but not many nutrients.
Junk foods are often high in fat, sugar and salt. It’s important not to have too many foods from this group too often.