As a society we must accept that the majority of us consume too much of the wrong foods. For most of us a healthy diet is simple and easy to do if we just ate more fruit, vegetables, bread, cereals, potatoes, and pasta.
We should be including in our diet a variety of foods taken from the 5 basic food groups, eaten in the correct proportions.
The 5 food groups include:
Fruit and vegetables: include fresh, frozen and canned fruit/vegetables as well as salad vegetables. These are all sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre and are naturally low in fat and calories. Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Fruit and vegetables make up a third of your daily portion.
Bread, pasta, rice and potatoes: should be the main part of all meals and if at all possible choose wholegrain varieties. This also makes up a third of your daily portion.
Milk and dairy produce: include yoghurt and bio-yoghurts, cheese and milk products. They are rich in protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals. These foods can also be high in saturated fats and should be consumed moderately. Choose reduced fat versions where possible, eating 2-3 small portions a day.
Foods that contain sugars and fats: include margarine, butter cream, low fat spreads, mayonnaise, cooking oils, salad dressings, biscuits, sugared drinks, pastry foods, sweets and crisps, anything that is considered sweet. All of these foods tend to be high in fat and calories, so eat them sparingly and in small amounts.
Fish, meat poultry, beans and pulses: Eating fish 2-3 times a week is essential and make sure you consume at least one portion of oily fish a week. Red meat is an excellent source of iron and vitamin B12. Choose the leaner cuts and trim off as much fat as you can before cooking. Beans and pulses are also important components of our dietary needs.
If cooking mince, drain the mince before adding seasoning. Lentils, nuts, peas and beans are also in this food group. One portion of beans and lentils will count towards 1 portion of your 5 a day. Try to use lower fat versions of all these foods wherever possible and again eat at least 2-3 servings daily from this group.