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Food Groups

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There is no such thing as good and bad food so when people eat an unhealthy diet they eat the wrong balance of foods.  To see what a balanced diet looks like click on the word “balance” under the section links at the side of this page.  This will show you how much of each of the five food groups you and your family should eat regularly.  To find out more about what the five food groups do for you please read on.



The five food groups are: -

1)                 Fruit and vegetables
2)                 Bread, other cereals and potatoes
3)                 Meat, fish and alternatives
4)                 Milk and dairy foods
5)                 Foods and drinks containing fat and sugar.

If you are talking to your children then you might like to explain it as a healthy body as a finely tuned motor engine.  It needs the right fuel to run at its best and this fuel is made up of these five food groups.  When we have too much or too little of any of the food groups then the engine might break or stop running properly. 


The health information on this website is for general use only and is not a substitute for professional medical help and advice.

The following links provide more detailed information: - (BBC) (NHS) (Food Standards Agency) (British Dietetic Agency) (British Nutrition Foundation)

Meat, Fish and Alternatives
Meat, Fish and Alternatives
Examples are:
Chicken, turkey,beef, pulses, beans, seeds, nuts and Quorn
How does my body use it?

All these are rich in protein that helps the body repair itself.  Proteins are made up from amino acids that can link together in many combinations to form chains. Some amino acid chains are created by your body, but those called essential amino acids must come from your diet e.g. meat, fish and eggs.  We need to eat protein everyday because the body cannot store it.

Bread, other Cereals and Potatoes
Bread, other Cereals and Potatoes
Examples are:
Pasta, rice, bread and noodles
How does my body use it?

This group provides your body’s main source of energy.  These foods are very healthy and filling especially when they have not been processed.  For example brown bread is better than white as it has more fibre.  Fibre helps keep the digestive system working well and keeps us fuller for longer, so we do not need to eat as much.

Some simple changes you and your child could make: -

1)     Starting the day off with some porridge rather than sugary cereals.

2)     Having wholemeal toast rather than white.

3)     Cooking with a mixture of brown and white flour.

4)     Having wholegrain rice.

If you are making these changes then you should try drinking more water as it will help you digest the extra fibre

Fruit and Vegetables
Fruit and Vegetables
Examples are:
Broccoli, carrots, apples, oranges
How does my body use it?

Scientific research has shown that we should eat five portions of fruit and vegetables each day.  Fruit and vegetables have lots of fibre, plus a whole range of vitamins and minerals.  They are low in calories, with lots of choice and tastes, so they make an important and healthy addition to any diet.

You could eat five-a-day by having: -

  • Breakfast – one glass of fruit juice
  • Mid morning break – some dried fruit like raisins or apricots
  • Lunch – a salad or vegetables with a hot meal at school
  • Dinner – a portion of vegetables with your main course
  • Pudding – some fresh fruit
Milk and Dairy Foods
Milk and Dairy Foods
Examples are:
Cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais
How does my body use it?

This group does not include butter, margarine or cream, which belong in the next group. They have many different types of nutrients and are rich in calcium.  Calcium is a mineral that strengthens your bones and teeth so it is particularly important for growing children.  It also helps the body run effectively by helping your muscles and nerves.

Foods containing fat and suger
Foods containing fat and suger
Examples are:
Butter, margerine, cream
How does my body use it?

The foods in this group should be eaten sparingly.  They provide energy but have fewer nutrients so better sources of energy are bread, cereals and potatoes.  1g of fat provides 9 calories which is more than double the amount of protein and hence the need to eat less of them.

Fat does have some benefit.  For example it protects vital body organs, helps transports some soluble vitamins around the body and the essential fatty acids assist the heart and immune system.  The reason we tend to eat more fat is that it makes food taste nicer.

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