Do you need all 5 food groups at every meal?

To meet the nutrient requirements essential for good health, it is necessary to eat a variety of each of the five food groups daily, in the recommended amounts. You don't need to eat from every food group at every meal. You should eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. They contain important vitamins and minerals that help prevent diseases, as well as fiber, which can lower cholesterol, keep the intestine healthy and aid digestion.

Fruits and vegetables are low in fat, so they're great for bulking up meals and making you feel full without adding too many calories. Fresh, frozen, canned or dried fruits and vegetables count toward your five a day. Check labels and choose options that are low in sugar and salt. Starchy foods, such as potatoes, bread, rice and pasta, should make up about a third of what you eat.

They are a good source of energy and essential fiber, calcium, iron and vitamins. Gram for gram, starchy foods contain less than half of the calories from fat. Try not to add extra fat to starchy foods by adding butter, oil, spreads, cheese or jam; that just means adding more calories. Dairy products and dairy alternatives are good sources of protein and vitamins.

They also contain calcium, which helps keep our bones healthy and strong. Semi-skimmed, skimmed and 1% fat milk contain less fat than whole milk, but they still provide protein, vitamins and calcium. Dairy-free milk alternatives include soy milk and nut milks; if you choose dairy-free milk, opt for sugar-free varieties that have been fortified with calcium. Try using a strong-tasting cheese, such as mature cheddar; the strong flavor means you can use less without sacrificing flavor and therefore reducing fat.

Also try grating cheese: a little goes a long way, so you'll use less. Legumes are things like beans, peas, and lentils. They are a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals and are naturally very low in fat. They count for your five a day, but only as a serving, no matter how much you eat.

Legumes are great for bulking up foods such as soups, stews, and sauces for meat. They add additional flavor and texture and allow you to consume less meat. This reduces the amount of fat you eat and also means that your money will go further, since legumes are usually cheaper than meat. Other plant-based protein sources include tofu, bean curd, and mycoproteins and Quorn.

They're full of protein, low in fat, and can be used instead of meat in most recipes. Fish is a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Try to eat at least two servings of fish a week, one of which should be rich in oil (one serving weighs about 140 g). Choose between fresh, frozen or canned fish.

Oil-rich fish, such as salmon and mackerel, contain omega-3 fatty acids, which keep our hearts healthy and are a good source of vitamins A and D. White fish includes fish such as haddock, solla, coley, cod, skateboard and hake. It is low in fat, contains important vitamins and minerals and is an excellent alternative to meat. Choose fresh, frozen, or canned white fish, but remember that smoked fish or fish canned in brine can be high in salt, so always check the label before buying.

It is best to steam, bake or grill fish. Fried fish, especially battered fish, has more fat. Quiches and flans contain eggs, but they can be high in fat and salt, so eat them less often. Meat is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals.

It is one of the main sources of vitamin B12, an important vitamin found only in animal foods such as meat and milk. It's important to know how to cook and handle meat safely. Some fats are healthier than others, but all have a lot of calories; limit them in your diet to help maintain a healthy weight. Water, low-fat milk, and sugar-free drinks, including tea and coffee, count.

Choose sugar-free options instead of sugary drinks. Some foods don't fall into the 5 food groups because they aren't necessary for a healthy diet. These foods are called “discretionary options” (sometimes referred to as “junk food”) and should only be eaten from time to time. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating External link describes how many servings you and your family need each day, and the standard serving sizes for food and drinks.

Some of the food groups are divided into subgroups to emphasize foods that are particularly good sources of certain vitamins and minerals. Following a varied and well-balanced diet means eating a variety of foods from each of the 5 food groups on a daily basis, in the recommended amounts. Because different foods provide different types and amounts of key nutrients, it's important to choose a variety of foods from each food group. Eating a variety of foods from the 5 main food groups provides a variety of nutrients to the body, promotes good health and can help reduce the risk of diseases, in addition to maintaining an interesting diet with different flavors and textures.

However, if these foods regularly replace the most nutritious and healthy foods in your diet, the risk of developing obesity and chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer, increases. Foods and drinks, such as soft drinks, cordials, cookies, pastries and confectionery products, are high in added sugars and high in kilojoules. The Eatwell Guide shows the proportions in which different types of food are needed to have a healthy and balanced diet. MyPlate has sections for vegetables, fruits, grains and protein foods, as well as an additional cup for dairy products.

These foods, sometimes referred to as “junk food”, “discretionary options” or “occasional foods”, can sometimes be enjoyed, but should not be included regularly in a healthy diet. .