What are "food groups" and how will they support weight-loss?

There is a lot of discussion about food groups and how it helps to support a healthy diet and weight loss. But, what does this actually mean?

Food can be divided into four main groups. These groups are: carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, proteins and dairy, and finally, sugars and fats.

Each food group provides something that are bodies need to move, grow and repair. Too much of one particular group will deprive the body of essentials from the other groups. The key is ensuring you have the correct amount from each group - this is the healthy balanced diet.

The four groups are typically organised into a pyramid and it shows the distribution of what we need. The bottom of the pyramid, we need more of these foods, the top of the pyramid we need fewer of these foods.

The illustration above shows the balance of what we need over the course of a day. More of the carbohydrates and fewer of the fats and sugars.

1. Carbohydrates:

Carbohydrates give you energy, calcium and B vitamins. These could be in servings of: pasta, rice, oats, potatoes and sweet potatoes or noodles, yam, couscous, bread, barley and rye. Breakfast cereals are also a carbohydrate and many contain extra iron too.

What could one portion look like?

• One slice of bread

• Six tablespoons of breakfast cereal or porridge

• Four wholewheat crisp breads

• Six tablespoons of pasta, rice, or couscous

• Two small new potatoes

• Two tablespoons mashed sweet potato

Aim for brown foods, such as brown rice or bread, as these are ricer in fibre and release energy slowly leaving you feeling fuller for longer.

2. Fruits and vegetables:

Fruits and vegetables, whether fresh, frozen, tinned or dried, are brilliant for our diets. They are full of health-giving vitamins, antioxidants and fibre. By eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, you will be getting a range of the important vitamins and minerals that our bodies need.

What does one portion look like?

• One apple, orange, pear or banana or similar-sized fruit

• Two smaller fruits such as plums, satsumas or kiwi fruit

• A handful of 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

Aim to have 2-3 portions of fruit and 2-3 portions of vegetables a day.

3. Protein and diary: